Understanding Women's Empowerment and its Impact on Child Nutrition among Pastoralists in Northern Kenya Open Access

Kottutt, Jepkoech Jerop (2017)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/pr76f434n?locale=en


Introduction: Globally, 156 and 50 million children under five are stunted and wasted respectively[1]. More than a third and a quarter of all the stunted and wasted children under five respectively live in sub-Sharan Africa[1]. Undernutrition causes approximately 3 million deaths annually among children 5-years-old and below because it makes the body susceptible to infections, and it prolongs and increases infection severity [2]. Studies have shown that women's empowerment leads to improved maternal and child nutrition[3-5]. This paper discusses the impact of women's role and status, social influences and intrahousehold preferential food distribution on child nutrition in Northern Kenya.

Methods: A cross-sectional exploratory qualitative research was conducted from June through August of 2016 in Marsabit and Isiolo counties. A total of 66 FGDs, with 10-12 participants each, were conducted in the the ward level namely Laisamis, Korr, Turbi, Sololo, and Moyale wards in Marsabit county, and Burat, Kinna, Merti, Oldonyiro and Ngaremara wards in Isiolo county. Nutrition and women's empowerment field notes were read, ‘memo-ed', and coded using MAXQDA10 Qualitative Analysis Software. Codes were developed inductively and deductively with a thematic analysis approach[6].

Results: The role and the status of women in pastoral communities was defined by division of labour in the household and the family structure, which encompassed the relationship in position between co-wives and their relationship to the man. Maternal figures had more influence over child nutrition in nomadic communities compared to sedenterized communities. Practices on preferential food distribution was observed more in nomadic communities compared to sedenterized communities. Food distribution in nomadic communities was mostly based on sex, individual status in the household and individual needs.

Conclusion: To better understand the linkages between women's empowerment and child nutrition, the focus on women's ability to provide basic needs should also include acquisition of resources and negotiations on household food budgets. Role of maternal figures and preferential distribution of ASFs in the household should be further explored to determine their influence on child nutrition and to ascertain gender disparities.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 8
1.1 Introduction and Rationale 8
1.2 Problem Statement 9
1.3 Purpose Statement 9
1.4 Research Question 9
1.5 Significance Statement 9
1.6 Definition of Terms 9
Chapter 2 10
2.1 Pastoralism and Child Nutrition 10
2.2 Role and Status of Women in Pastoral Communities 10
2.3 Social Influencers on Child Nutrition 12
2.4 Intrahousehold Preferential Food Distribution 13
Chapter 3 15
3.1 Aims and Overview 15
3.2 Study Setting and Sampling Strategy 15
3.3 Data Collection 15
3.4 Training 16
3.5 IRB/Informed Consent 16
3.6 Data Management 16
3.7 Data Analyses 17
3.8 Limitations 17
Chapter 4 18
4.1 Role and Status of Women in Pastoral Communities 18
Division of Labor 18
Ownership of Livestock 18
Family Structure 18
Buy and Sale of Food 19
4.2 Social Influences on Nutrition 20
Grandmothers as Caregivers 20
Breastfeeding and Complementary Feeding 20
4.3 Intrahousehold Preferential Food Distribution 21
Food Selection and Preparation 21
Food Serving and Allocation 21
Chapter 5 24
5.1 Discussion and Conclusions 24
5.2 Public Health Implications and Recommendations 26
References 27

About this Master's Thesis

Rights statement
  • Permission granted by the author to include this thesis or dissertation in this repository. All rights reserved by the author. Please contact the author for information regarding the reproduction and use of this thesis or dissertation.
  • English
Research Field
Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor
Partnering Agencies
Last modified

Primary PDF

Supplemental Files