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University of Colorado at Boulder (2019)

Climate Change, Food Security and Health of Rural Populations In Isiolo, Kenya

Posner, Sarah Elaine

Titre : Climate Change, Food Security and Health of Rural Populations In Isiolo, Kenya

Auteur : Posner, Sarah Elaine

Université de soutenance : University of Colorado at Boulder

Grade : Master of Arts (MA) 2019

Livelihoods dependent on natural resources in rural areas are increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, which threaten the food security and health of households, especially for women and children under five in the arid regions of Northern Kenya. This thesis explores the differential vulnerability of agro-pastoralists and non-agro-pastoralists to climate change in Isiolo County, Kenya. Using a livelihoods approach, the impacts, coping strategies, and drivers of food security and related health outcomes (in this case malaria) were assessed from the perspective of mothers in rural areas.

The study relied on primary quantitative household survey data collected from December 26, 2018 to January 8, 2019 in three rural communities of Isiolo, Kenya : Burat, Ngare Mara, and Kinna. Mothers of reproductive age with children under five were interviewed. A total of 274 household surveys were collected, which were supplemented with qualitative field notes to provide context of the study results.

Results indicate that food insecurity is a major issue faced by households in Ngare Mara while households in Kinna were relatively food secure and Burat were somewhere in-between. Livestock were also found to be an important productive asset within a diversified livelihood strategy to ensure household food security. Other determinants of food security included : maternal educational attainment and access to sanitation services. Disease was the most common risk reported to children’s health with malaria the most frequently reported disease as a major risk factor to children under five.

In terms of climate change, a majority of respondents said floods are more frequent and severe than 10 years ago. This finding is likely attributed to the extreme flooding events that occurred earlier during the long rainy season from March to May 2018. The major reported impacts for floods was crop failure (122 respondents) and decrease or change in food availability (141 respondents) while for drought was livestock death (166 respondents). Results illustrate that climate change has differential impacts on different livelihoods, which highlights the importance of building the resilience of rural livelihoods to ensure the food security, health and wellbeing of their households, especially for women and young children.


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