Contribution of microfinance in enhancing food access and coping strategy in AIDS-affected households in Kakamega county, Kenya
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) pandemic increases a family’s food insecurity by reducing the family’s ability to produce food, which compromises their output and income. This reduces their food availability, accessibility and acquisition, and interferes with regular nutritional intake. In response, households develop various coping strategies, especially in the context of food shortages. Arguably, microfinance (MF) has been advocated by many as an antidote to disasters affecting the households in different disaster contexts, such as famine, poverty, and tsunami occurrences. This study, therefore, sought to find out the contribution of MF to AIDS-affected households in terms of food access and coping strategies in Kakamega County, Kenya. Specifically, the study determined the effect of MF on the proportion of income spent on food, and number of meals consumed in a day. It also sought to illuminate the coping strategies adopted by AIDS-affected households with and without MF in the context of food shortages. This study adopted both qualitative and quantitative approaches with an experimental framework. A sample of 404 AIDS-affected household heads was included in the study. Findings from descriptive and inferential analyses revealed that over 50% of AIDS-affected households before MF were spending their income on food irrespective of loan status, and there was a highly statistically significant difference in the proportion of income spent on food by affected households with and without MF. Those households with MF spent almost twice of their income on food compared to those without MF. There was also a highly statistically significant difference in the number of meals consumed between those households with and without MF, in favour of those with MF. Households with MF took relatively more meals. Lastly, households without MF adopted more severe coping strategies when faced with food shortages. The study concluded that affected households with MF had easy access to food, ate the required number of meals and adopted less severe coping strategies. This was because MF services came as a package of money, training and advisory on business and health-related issues, which did not only improve household income but also enhanced food access and enabled adoption of less severe coping strategies in AIDS-affected households in Kakamega County.
Key words: AIDS, Microfinance, Food, Security, Access, Affected, Non–affected,
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