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      Vulnerability to Food Insecurity in Urban Slums: Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya

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          Abstract

          Food and nutrition security is critical for economic development due to the role of nutrition in healthy growth and human capital development. Slum residents, already grossly affected by chronic poverty, are highly vulnerable to different forms of shocks, including those arising from political instability. This study describes the food security situation among slum residents in Nairobi, with specific focus on vulnerability associated with the 2007/2008 postelection crisis in Kenya. The study from which the data is drawn was nested within the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS), which follows about 70,000 individuals from close to 30,000 households in two slums in Nairobi, Kenya. The study triangulates data from qualitative and quantitative sources. It uses qualitative data from 10 focus group discussions with community members and 12 key-informant interviews with community opinion leaders conducted in November 2010, and quantitative data involving about 3,000 households randomly sampled from the NUHDSS database in three rounds of data collection between March 2011 and January 2012. Food security was defined using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS) criteria. The study found high prevalence of food insecurity; 85 % of the households were food insecure, with 50 % being severely food insecure. Factors associated with food security include level of income, source of livelihood, household size, dependence ratio; illness, perceived insecurity and slum of residence. The qualitative narratives highlighted household vulnerability to food insecurity as commonplace but critical during times of crisis. Respondents indicated that residents in the slums generally eat for bare survival, with little concern for quality. The narratives described heightened vulnerability during the 2007/2008 postelection violence in Kenya in the perception of slum residents. Prices of staple foods like maize flour doubled and simultaneously household purchasing power was eroded due to worsened unemployment situation. The use of negative coping strategies to address food insecurity such as reducing the number of meals, reducing food variety and quality, scavenging, and eating street foods was prevalent. In conclusion, this study describes the deeply intertwined nature of chronic poverty and acute crisis, and the subsequent high levels of food insecurity in urban slum settings. Households are extremely vulnerable to food insecurity; the situation worsening during periods of crisis in the perception of slum residents, engendering frequent use of negative coping strategies. Effective response to addressing vulnerability to household food insecurity among the urban poor should focus on both the underlying vulnerabilities of households due to chronic poverty and added impacts of acute crises.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Childhood vaccination in informal urban settlements in Nairobi, Kenya: Who gets vaccinated?

          Background Recent trends in global vaccination coverage have shown increases with most countries reaching 90% DTP3 coverage in 2008, although pockets of undervaccination continue to persist in parts of sub-Saharan Africa particularly in the urban slums. The objectives of this study were to determine the vaccination status of children aged between 12-23 months living in two slums of Nairobi and to identify the risk factors associated with incomplete vaccination. Methods The study was carried out as part of a longitudinal Maternal and Child Health study undertaken in Korogocho and Viwandani slums of Nairobi. These slums host the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS) run by the African Population and Health Research Centre (APHRC). All women from the NUHDSS area who gave birth since September 2006 were enrolled in the project and administered a questionnaire which asked about the vaccination history of their children. For the purpose of this study, we used data from 1848 children aged 12-23 months who were expected to have received all the WHO-recommended vaccinations. The vaccination details were collected during the first visit about four months after birth with follow-up visits repeated thereafter at four month intervals. Full vaccination was defined as receiving all the basic childhood vaccinations by the end of 24 months of life, whereas up-to-date (UTD) vaccination referred to receipt of BCG, OPV 1-3, DTP 1-3, and measles vaccinations within the first 12 months of life. All vaccination data were obtained from vaccination cards which were sighted during the household visit as well as by recall from mothers. Multivariate models were used to identify the risk factors associated with incomplete vaccination. Results Measles coverage was substantially lower than that for the other vaccines when determined using only vaccination cards or in addition to maternal recall. Up-to-date (UTD) coverage with all vaccinations at 12 months was 41.3% and 51.8% with and without the birth dose of OPV, respectively. Full vaccination coverage (57.5%) was higher than up-to-date coverage (51.8%) at 12 months overall, and in both slum settlements, using data from cards. Multivariate analysis showed that household assets and expenditure, ethnicity, place of delivery, mother's level of education, age and parity were all predictors of full vaccination among children living in the slums. Conclusions The findings show the extent to which children resident in slums are underserved with vaccination and indicate that service delivery of immunization services in the urban slums needs to be reassessed to ensure that all children are reached.
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            Monitoring of Health and Demographic Outcomes in Poor Urban Settlements: Evidence from the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System

            The Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS) was set up in Korogocho and Viwandani slum settlements to provide a platform for investigating linkages between urban poverty, health, and demographic and other socioeconomic outcomes, and to facilitate the evaluation of interventions to improve the wellbeing of the urban poor. Data from the NUHDSS confirm the high level of population mobility in slum settlements, and also demonstrate that slum settlements are long-term homes for many people. Research and intervention programs should take account of the duality of slum residency. Consistent with the trends observed countrywide, the data show substantial improvements in measures of child mortality, while there has been limited decline in fertility in slum settlements. The NUHDSS experience has shown that it is feasible to set up and implement long-term health and demographic surveillance system in urban slum settlements and to generate vital data for guiding policy and actions aimed at improving the wellbeing of the urban poor.
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              Are Urban Poverty and Undernutrition Growing? Some Newly Assembled Evidence

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                +254-20-4001000 , ekimani@aphrc.org
                Journal
                J Urban Health
                J Urban Health
                Journal of Urban Health : Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine
                Springer US (Boston )
                1099-3460
                1468-2869
                30 August 2014
                30 August 2014
                December 2014
                : 91
                : 6
                : 1098-1113
                Affiliations
                [ ]African Population and Health Research Centre, Nairobi, Kenya, P.O. Box 10787, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya
                [ ]Save the Children, UK; formerly of Concern Worldwide, Kenya, Dublin, Ireland
                Article
                9894
                10.1007/s11524-014-9894-3
                4242851
                25172616
                © The Author(s) 2014

                Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

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                © The New York Academy of Medicine 2014

                Public health

                vulnerability, crisis, kenya, food security, sub-saharan africa, urban poor

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