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Improving Food and Nutrition Security in Kenya’s Arid Lands-A Mini Review

Abstract: This paper presents a review of the literature on food and nutrition security in Kenya’s arid counties. It also provides strategies that can be adopted to improve food and nutrition security in the counties. Due to their aridity, they are associated with low economic, health, literacy and food and nutrition security indicators. They bear the brunt of food and nutrition insecurity and a proportionately higher percentage of their population faces starvation, whenever droughts occur. Stunting and wasting in the region’s children averages 28 and 14%, respectively. The figures compare poorly with the national averages of 4% and 11%, respectively. As the indices are related to quantity, diversity and quality of food intake, there is need to reduce food and nutrition insecurity in these Counties. Past efforts to reduce food and nutrition insecurity have failed, due to lack of long-term commitment from the National-level of Government, the use of inefficient farming technologies and low level of mechanization. Poverty, low and unpredictable rainfall for rain-fed agriculture, inconsistent livestock marketing of poor quality livestock, high crop production costs, high food prices also contribute to food and nutrition insecurity of the region. To improve food and nutrition security, it is recommended that the National-level of Government cedes the implementation of food production programmes to County Governments, while it strengthens food production policies, diversification of livelihoods and supports resilience-building. Other recommendations include innovating solar and wind-power devices to run machinery for food production, processing and preservation. Improvements in water harvesting, storage and pumping with wind and solar-powered equipment can also be explored. These improvements should eventually reduce dependence on food importation, which raises food prices, and de-incentivizes local farmers. Diversification of livelihoods, good governance and the application of appropriate technologies in food production, value addition and cooperation of the two levels of Government, are likely to gradually improve access and availability of quality and affordable food. The potential result is an improving food and nutrition security situation in Kenya’s arid Counties.
Keywords: nutrition security / arid counties / livelihoods / children / diversity / rainfall / droughts / building

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