Food security status and coping strategies of rural households with under-5 children in Ahiazu Mbaise LGA of Imo State
Background: Food insecurity is a growing public health concern in Nigeria especially where all efforts towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG 1) of eradicating extreme hunger and poverty by 2015 is yet to be realized. This cross sectional study was designed to assess food security status of rural households in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo state.
Methods: A total of 410 mothers with under-five children from rural households were selected using multistage sampling technique from the 16 wards that make up the LGA. A validated questionnaire was used to obtain information on socioeconomic characteristics, coping strategies and awareness of food insecurity. Food security status was assessed using a United State Department of Agriculture 18-item Food security survey module. Data were analyzed using descriptives and chi square.
Results: A total of 74.6% of the rural households were food insecure (experiencing one stage of hunger or another). The main coping strategies employed to deal with food insecurity were reduction in number of meals eaten per day (49.8%) and cutting down portion sizes of food eaten (32.7%). Households size (X2=34.707; p=0.033); education (X2=72.660;p=0.041), occupation (X2= 53.011;p=0.046); number of children (X2=67.717; p=0.001) and amount of money spent on food (X2= 61.640;p=0.025) were significantly associated with food security.
Conclusion: Varying levels of food insecurity was evident among the rural households in the study area. Efforts should focus on improving socio economic status of these rural households.
Keywords: Food security, coping strategies, under-five children, rural