Prevalence of severe food insecurity in Kenya at 35.6%

Most parts of Kenya experience two rain seasons: March to May’s “long rains” and October to December’s “short rains”. However, as far as this year is concerned, there have been delayed rains.

In a country, whose main contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) is agriculture; the change

in the rainfall patterns has caused great challenges to the farmers. Weather forecasting and proper timing are critical to farmers so that they are able to plan when to plant or harvest their crops.

Moreover, there have been reports of famine and drought affecting many in the arid and semi-arid areas. With the price of foods increasing in price, most people have to dig deeper into their pockets to buy the highly priced costly foods or opt for buying less quantity as usual.

Data from The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 — FAO shows that as of the period 2015–2017, the prevalence of severe food insecurity in Kenya was at 35.6%.

So, how is food insecurity measured?

FAO used an approach based on asking people directly in a survey, to report on the occurrence of conditions and behaviors that are known to reflect constraints on access to food.

The Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) survey module is composed of eight questions that have been carefully selected and tested, and proven effective in measuring the severity of the food insecurity situation of respondents in different cultural, linguistic and development contexts.

Prevalence of undernourishment in the total population reduced from 28.2% in 2004–06 to24.2% in 2015–17.

Prevalence of stunting in children (under 5 years of age) reduced from 35.2% to 26% in 2017.

WHO says that Stunting is the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation. Children are defined as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median.

Prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding among infants (0–5 months of age) significantly rose from 31.9% in 2012 to 61.4% in 2017.

According to WHO, Exclusive breastfeeding means that the infant receives only breast milk.

No other liquids or solids are given — not even water — with the exception of oral rehydration solution, or drops/syrups of vitamins, minerals or medicines. Breastfeeding protects against diarrhea and common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, and may also have longer-term health benefits for the mother and child, such as reducing the risk of overweight and obesity in childhood and adolescence.

Prevalence of anemia among women of reproductive age (15–49) slightly reduced from 27.5% in 2012 to 27.2% in 2016.

Prevalence of obesity in the adult population (18 years and older) rose from 4.8% in 2012 to 6% in 2016.

Prevalence of overweight in children (under 5 years of age) reduced from 5% in 2012 to 4.1% in 2017.