Short Communication: A qualitative assessment of food security in an internally displaced persons camp in Kenya
The 2007/08 post-election violence in Kenya resulted in the displacement of an estimated 600 000 people. Current published research suggests that many of these internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to have issues accessing basic needs, including food and water, impacting morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to assess food security and access to cooking fuel and water within an internally displaced persons’ (IDP) camp in Kenya. It was designed as a descriptive, qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with members of households residing in the IDP camp. Participants were recruited through respondent-driven sampling using a network of coupons. Semi-structured interviews were utilised to determine key issues associated with the attainment of food security, access to cooking fuel and water among resident IDPs, targeting male household heads. Interview structure was based on framework for assessment of food security provided by the International Federation of the Red Cross. Recorded interviews then underwent thematic analysis using NVivo 10 (QSR International, Melbourne, Victoria). A total of 15 semi-structured interviews were completed with men at the camp, aged between 18 and 53. Thematic analysis shows that key elicited concerns regarding food security included lack of capital for agriculture, lack of dietary diversity, seasonal insecurity and anxiety about the future. Access to water was limited to a single borehole located within the camp. Few reliable and safe sources could be identified for cooking fuel. Thus, internally displaced persons residing at this camp continue to experience significant food insecurity. Despite being allocated land for agriculture, they lack capital for investment in agriculture and access to local food markets. Access to water and cooking fuel is limited and a source of significant concern. Initiatives to improve food security delivered through government and non-government programs are necessary to minimise the significant impact of such food insecurity on mental health and disease profiles as reported in other IDP settings.
Key words: Internally displaced persons, Kenya, Food security, Qualitative study, Nutrition
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