Three out of 10 households in Kenya are starving, forcing some members to devise tactics to survive, a new survey has shown. To insulate the most vulnerable, some of the food-deficient families adopted some coping mechanisms such as relying on less preferred food, borrowing as well as reducing the number of meals and portions especially by adults so that children can feed. Respondents in the 40,300 households sampled in the latest survey across the 47 counties were asked how many days preceding the last seven days from the date of interview that members had consumed items from various food groups including staples, pulses, vegetables, fruits, meat, dairy, oil and sugar. The situation is more acute in rural than urban areas, according to the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014. In rural areas, more than three households reported having gone without food in the preceding seven days.
And 36 per cent of households in the rural areas reported lacking food or money to purchase food. Only 23 per cent of urban households reported have suffered the same fate. Coping mechanisms The survey also found that households in Rift Valley had a more serious food security situation -known as coping strategy index- with 4,406 households reporting having resorted to several coping mechanisms to deal with lack of food. Cases of households going hungry for lack of food or money to purchase food were highest in Western, where 45 per cent of the respondents reported not having had something to eat in the seven days preceding the date of the survey. Western was followed by Nyanza at 42 per cent, North Eastern at 38 per cent and Eastern at 38 per cent. Central with mean coping strategy of 16.7 and 17.4 per cent of households reporting lack of food or lack of money to purchase food was the most food secure region. According to the survey, 13 per cent of households in the highest wealth quintile reported not having enough food or money to buy food.
The report also showed that there is a huge gap of wealth between the people of Nairobi and those of North Eastern. 67.4 of Nairobi’s households sit in the ‘Highest’ wealth quintile while 72.9 of households in North Eastern are in the Lowest wealth quintile. Just over 36 per cent of households in Kenya have access to electricity and seven in 10 households have improved source of drinking water. A the same time, Nairobi has the highest number of wealthy households with about nine out of every 10 people in the capital city falling above the poverty line, according to the survey. North Eastern had highest number of poor households, with seven in 10 people struggling to afford most essential needs.