The World Food Summit (WFS) of 1996 in Rome stipulated that food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active life and healthy life. Every human being has a right to live in conditions that ensures food security, irrespective of their social or economic situations. This study is an investigation into food security among female-headed households in Kenya, focusing on Voi Division in Taita-Taveta County as the case for the study. The study was guided by the Ecological Systems perspective by Urie Bronfenbrenner, (1979). In the Millennium Development Goals term (2000-2015), food security was a vivid indicator of the MDG1. Moreover, in the post-Millennium, food security is enshrined in the SDG2. Like everyone else, members of FHHs are entitled to food security as stipulated in the WFS of 1996. By highlighting the statuses of food security among FHHs, this report acts as a reference to researchers, policy makers, programme planners and practitioners on food security among FHHs. The question which guided this study is:
What is the status of food security among female-headed households in Voi Division, Taita-Taveta County, Kenya?
The main goal of this study was to investigate and describe the statuses of food security among female-headed households in Voi Division, Taita-Taveta County, Kenya. The study was guided by the following specific objectives, which were to:
Determine the status of dietary diversity among female-headed households in Voi Division, Kenya by utilising dietary diversity score as an indicator of food security.
Measure food consumption frequency among female-headed households in Voi Division, Kenya by utilising food consumption score as an indicator of food security.
Determine the overall status of food security among female-headed households in Voi Division, Kenya. Describe the statuses of food security among female-headed households in Voi Division, Kenya and provide practice guidelines regarding the food security statuses.
The study approach was pragmatism, a research paradigm of mixed methods of triangulating quantitative and qualitative phases. The type of the study was an applied research, whose design was convergent parallel design of triangulating cross-sectional survey and collective case study designs for quantitative and qualitative phases respectively.
The study utilised a randomised cross-sectional survey design in data collection for quantitative part. The cross-sectional survey yielded quantitative findings which are presented and discussed in chapter 5 of this report. The reliability of the questionnaire was tested through piloting among 14 respondents. Content validity of the questionnaire was ensured by making it conventional to the relevant technical domains of measuring food security, and seeking guidance from supervisor. Additionally, the researcher structured and formatted questions in a logical order, and utilised relevant questions to the study to enhance the questionnaire’s face validity. Moreover, the study supervisor also provided instruction, and the pilot test respondents’ provided opinions on the relevance of the items in the questionnaire.
Population for the quantitative survey was all female-headed households, as the universe or target population of the study; while all de jure female household heads were prioritised as the accessible population, for they displayed characteristics of interest with the objectives of the study.
Sampling of the de jure female-headed households was done using the following inclusion criteria:
Female household heads must have been aged 18 years and above;
The female household heads must not have been attached to any male household headship;
The female household heads must have had dependents; and
The female household heads must have been functionally proficient in either English or Kiswahili.
The quantitative phase of the study utilised a structured researcher-administered questionnaire. The questionnaire was structured according to recommendations by Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance (FANTA), which offers technical guidance on how to generate food and nutrition survey questions. The survey respondents were female-household heads, who were also the principal household caregivers. The researcher conducted pre-testing of the questionnaire for the quantitative part among 14 female household heads in Mwatate Division in Taita-Taveta County, and these respondents were not part of the main study. Prior to the actual survey, the researcher trained her research assistants on data collection procedures. The research commenced with researcher or research assistants visiting the respondents at their households and convenient places they had agreed to respond at, to administer the questionnaire. Computer software packages the Microsoft (MS) Excel and Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) were used in organising and analysing quantitative data.
The participants for key informants’ interviews were workers in organisations or institutions that dealt with food security in the Voi Division. The units for observations and photographs were the female-headed households.
Research instruments for the qualitative phase were semi-structured interview schedule (and cellphone audio-recorder), observation checklist and digital camera for key informants’ interviews, observations, and photograph-taking respectively.
The researcher pre-tested the interview schedule and the audio-recorder with two key informants who were excluded from the main inquiry. The digital camera was pretested along with the questionnaire.
The data from the qualitative phase was prepared and analysed spirally through scrutinising the data, making data back-ups on computer folders, and retrieving the data for the analysis. Computer software programmes MS Word, MS Excel, and SPSS were used for the analysis. To ensure credibility of qualitative findings, researcher prioritised emic interpretation and made her own opinions (etic interpretation) secondary.