Household Food Insecurity and Coping Strategies among Small Scale Farmers in Tharaka Central Division of Tharaka South District, Kenya

Beatrice Kabui Icheria

Abstract:

Food insecurity is a major development problem that is caused by myriad of factors in the global, regional, national and local spheres of human life. Several efforts have been put in place to alleviate food insecurity globally, nationally and even locally. Despite these efforts, the situation continues to prevail and sometimes even increase in the contemporary human society. It is therefore imperative that food insecurity gets addressed appropriately. Small scale farmers play a vital role in food production especially through subsistent farming. However, their households are major casualties of food insecurity despite their efforts in food production. This paper is a report of an investigation of household food insecurity and coping strategies among small scale farmers in Tharaka Central Division of Tharaka South District, Kenya. The investigation revealed that low food production is precipitated by droughts, food consumption patterns are characterized by low household dietary diversity score -HDDS (83.3%) and acceptable household food consumption score -HFCS (50.7%). The main source of household food is market. Household food insecurity statuses were: 44.7% food insecure, 43.3% vulnerable to food insecurity and 12%, food secure. Reduction in size of meals was the major coping strategy and the coping strategies were not detrimental to livelihoods. There were significant positive relationships between sizes of farms and sizes of farmlands (r= 0.653, p=0.000); between (HFCS) and farmland size (r=0.299, p=0.0000); significant difference between maize expected and maize harvested (t=22.927, p=0.000). There was also significant positive association between HDDS and HFCS (χ2=13.463, df=4 and p=0.009), sources of maize and the statuses of household food insecurity (χ2=160.895, df= 6, p=0.000). Food insecurity has formed a vicious cycle in Tharaka. It is recommended that the small scale farmers’ local capacity should be developed through community-based participatory actions; and the Government of Kenya (GOK), through the Ministry of Water and Irrigation should formulate irrigation policies and implement them in all ASAL areas to alleviate household food insecurity. 

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