Livelihood Activities And Wealth Ranking Among Rural Households In The Farming Systems Of Western Kenya
The study examined the relationship between the livelihood activities of rural households in the farming systems of Western Kenya in relation to their wealth. A stratified random sampling procedure was used to select 252 farm households from eight districts in three provinces. Focus group discussions (FGD) were used to collect community-level data which complemented household-level data. Primary data were collected using structured questionnaire. Results indicate that average household size was seven persons across survey districts. As expected, agriculture (crop and livestock) was the main activity of the farmers. Maize and common beans are the most important staple food crops and traded food crops. Livestock enterprises are dominated by poultry production. For purposes of diversification for better livelihoods, some farm households engaged in small businesses (especially fish trading), employment and artisanal work. The cropping system is mainly mixed cropping. Lack of cash and limited land availability were the most important factors that constrain agricultural development in Western Kenya. Although, most households preferred selling their farm produce in the markets or places where prices were better, many of them not only sold their farm produce but also purchased their farm inputs from the nearest towns due to problems and costs associated with going to where produce prices were better. Our results show a high wealth inequality among farm households in Western Kenya. This was in terms of both household wealth (with a Ginicoefficient of 0.52) and per capita wealth (with a Gini-coefficient of 0.55). The high level of inequality calls for more attention on proper targeting of development activities to ensure even distribution of resources and economic growth and development.
Keywords: livelihood activities, inequality, rural farming system, and health.
African Journal of Livestock Extension Vol. 5 2007: pp.43-52