SOCIAL PARAMETERS UNDERLYING FOOD SHORTAGES IN RURAL HOUSEHOLDS OF BUSIA COUNTY, KENYA
This paper is about demystifying the underlying social factors that explain the paradox of food insecurity in places of plenty. That despite the fact that Busia County is endowed with both natural and human resources for agricultural production and economic development, the County has for several decades been languishing in chronic food insecurity. The paper stems from a research study that questioned what causes the disconnection between the high potential rural environment and the plight of the residents who are living in situations of chronic food insecurity and abject poverty. The specific objective was to examine the social parameters (age, gender, level of education, level of skills and knowledge, decision making at household level, nature of social organization, beliefs, life philosophy, household size, marriage, rites of passage, social authority) that hinder the harnessing of agricultural potential in Busia County. The study was an ethnographic survey in design utilizing purposive and simple random sampling techniques. Use of an interview schedule, in-depth interviews and direct observations were the main methods of data collection. Data was analyzed through both qualitative and quantitative techniques. Social factors were found to explain the low participation in agricultural activities by households that also translated into low own-farm production of food. This article is significant in addressing a practical challenge of chronic food shortage facing residents of Busia County because over 64% of the residents in the County are living below poverty line; with food poverty level of 56%, yet 80% of them earn a living through small scale farming activities. This notwithstanding, there seem to be no scientific explanation on the social aspects contributing to the situation in Busia County: thus, the concern of the paper. This paper will therefore, be of direct benefit to Busia County government and other development partners operating in the county to improve household food security and social-economic development. The information provided here is vital for policy direction, a research database, and for strategic planning by all stakeholders in the County.
|Keywords: Social Parameters, Food Shortage, Rural Households, Busia, Kenya|
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