Local Knowledge and Perceptions on the Causes of Malnutrition among the Dasanech in Kenya: A Rapid Participatory Assessment in Illeret Ward, Marsabit County – Kenya
John Burns, Andy Catley, Mohamed M. Yusuf, Felista Ntesekwa, Timaado, Paul Lokono and Joshua Anete
In early 2022, northern Kenya was suffering from a severe drought which led to widespread livestock mortality and an increase in child malnutrition and mortality. To develop an appropriate response to the worsening situation, the Nawiri Project conducted a rapid community-level analysis of the causes of acute malnutrition in Illeret Ward in Marsabit County, Kenya. Illeret is mainly inhabited by the Dasanech community who until recently depended on the Omo River Delta for their livelihood.
Participants identified livelihood shocks and trends over the past twenty years, including the current drought as root causes of malnutrition. Apart from the drought, the main shock to livelihoods has been the loss of flood recession farmland and dry season livestock grazing reserve along the Omo Delta due to rising lake water levels. Turkana. The assessment looked at changes in the contribution of different food sources, changes in herd composition, and changes in the proportion of households engaged in fishing, which is a survival strategy and not a meaningful and sustainable livelihood. in this area.
The results show a serious decline in livelihoods and food security since 2010. For example, the results show a 60% decline in livestock herds between 2010 and 2020 and this figure increased to 90% following the recent drought . The results also show a similar trend in household food availability largely attributed to livestock feed loss and flood recession agriculture in the Omo Delta. As a result, people have become increasingly dependent on coping strategies such as fishing and collecting firewood. These labor-intensive activities resulted in an increase in women’s workloads over time, which participants associated with both child and maternal malnutrition.
These results indicate that the adaptive capacity of Dasanech in Kenya has reached a critical limit. Following the 2021-2022 drought, it is unclear what the future holds for this community unless clear pathways to improved livelihoods can be identified and supported.
This study is part of the Nawiri program (Nutrition in the ASALs within Integrated Resilient Institution). Nawiri aims to sustainably reduce persistent acute malnutrition by designing and implementing an approach to support, strengthen and protect systems and institutions. The project is funded by USAID/BHA and the consortium implementing the program in Isiolo and Marsabit counties in northern Kenya is led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS).