Unraveling the Channels of Food Security of the Households in Northern Kenya: Evidence from an Exclusive Dataset

Elsevier, Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 7, February 2023
Rono P.K., Rahman S.M., Amin M.D., Badruddoza S.

Background: Most of the 10 million Kenyans lacking food security lived in the arid and semi-arid northern part of the country in a climatic condition of high temperatures and very little rainfall throughout the year. Frequent droughts had devastating effects on the livelihoods and food availability of the population. Objectives: The objective of this study was to assess the food security status of the households in Northern Kenya and examine the factors contributing to their food security. Methods: De-identified secondary data were used from the 2015 Feed the Future household survey conducted in 9 counties of Northern Kenya. The experience-based indicator of food security was derived from the 6-item Household Food Security Survey Module (HFSSM), which categorized sample households into 3 groups: food secure, having low food security, and having very low food security. An ordered probit model and machine learning algorithm, namely ordered random forest, were used to find the most important determinants of food security. Results: Findings suggest that the daily per capita food expenditure, level of education of the household head, and durable asset ownership are the key predictors of food security. Households living in rural areas were likely to have low food security, but their probability of being food secure increased with at least primary education and livestock ownership, thus reflecting the importance of education and livestock production among rural communities in Northern Kenya. Access to improved water and participation in food security programs were found to be more important for food security among rural households than they were for urban households. Conclusions: These results implied that long-term policies on improving access to education, livestock ownership, and improved water may shape the food security status of rural households in Northern Kenya.