Addressing child and maternal nutrition: a qualitative study on food prescriptions and proscriptions determining animal source food consumption in rural Kenya

Mercy M. Musyoka, Salome A. Bukachi, Geoffrey Otieno Muga, Elkanah Otiang, Emmah N. Kwoba, Samuel M. Thumbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Animal source foods (ASFs) can play a critical role in the nutritional well-being of women and children. Although livestock ownership may translate to high availability of ASFs, community food prescriptions and proscriptions may determine consumption patterns and subsequent human nutritional status. This study sought to understand the existing dietary practices and underlying prescriptions and proscriptions of ASFs among women and children in Siaya County in western Kenya. The study was carried out among the Luo ethnic group in Siaya, western Kenya, within a livestock-keeping community where more than 90% of households kept at least one livestock species. Qualitative data collection was completed through 35 key informant interviews and 6 focus group discussions conducted between October and December 2018. Thematic analysis was used to establish and interpret patterns and relationships from emerging themes. We found male favoritism in food allocation and prohibition of eggs and (parts of) chicken, fish and meat for women and children, potentially contributing to low consumption of ASFs. Customary rites and ceremonies like funeral provided opportunities for the less fortunate to consume otherwise unaffordable and highly valued ASFs like meat. Religious beliefs and practices, unlike other cultural food beliefs and practices, remain rigid to change and thus contribute to low consumption of own-produced or locally available ASFs. To address protein malnutrition among these groups, our findings suggest improvement of animal production should be accompanied by interventions that address customary food prescriptions and proscriptions that may perpetuate low intake of ASFs especially among women of child-bearing age, mothers, pregnant women and children.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalFood Security
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • ASFs
  • consumption
  • prescription and proscriptions
  • maternal
  • nutrition

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