Enhancing food security through home gardening in urbanizing environment in Machakos County, Kenya
Keywords:Home gardening, urbanizing environment, food security
Kenya is rapidly urbanizing at an annual rate of about 4.3%. One of the consequences of urbanization has been the problem of food insecurity in peri-urban areas. Increased migration to urban from rural areas has enhanced food insecurity in these areas. The peri-urban area of Kangundo-Tala in Machakos County is one of the fastest-growing peri-urban areas due to its proximity to the capital city of Nairobi. This study investigated the impact of home gardening in enhancing food security in the rapidly urbanizing middle-income Kangundo–Tala peri-urban areas of Machakos County, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study were: to identify the causes of households’ food insecurity in the study area; to examine the factors influencing the adoption of home gardening and; to establish the role of home gardening as a measure of households’ food security. To measure food security, three consumption behaviors were analyzed: consumption changes, food expenditure reduction and income expansion. A qualitative approach was adopted where a total of 120 newly settled households were interviewed. The three main causes of food insecurity were identified (i) small land sizes, (ii) low and erratic rainfall and, (iii) the socialization of peri-urban dwellers. About 68% of the households were practicing at least one form of home gardening. The need for safe and nutritious food, seasonal unavailability, and inaccessibility of food encouraged the establishment of home gardens. From the gardens, households were able to diversify their diets, access safe food and have food readily available. With enhanced stability in food availability, accessibility, and utilization, the study concluded that home gardens played a major role in enhancing food. However, the production was at a very small scale. Up-scaling of home gardening by the Ministry of Agriculture through training was recommended.
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