Short Report – Special Collection: Climate Change

Climate change poses a threat to nutrition and food security in Kilifi County, Kenya

Susan J. Cheruiyot, Mary Kimanthi, Jacob S. Shabani, Nelson F. Nyamu, Catherine Gathu, Felix Agoi, Fleur De Meijer
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 14, No 1 | a3718 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v14i1.3718 | © 2022 Susan J. Cheruiyot, Mary Kimanthi, Jacob S. Shabani, Nelson F. Nyamu, Catherine Gathu, Felix Agoi, Fleur De Meijer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 June 2022 | Published: 31 October 2022

About the author(s)

Susan J. Cheruiyot, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Mary Kimanthi, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Jacob S. Shabani, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Nelson F. Nyamu, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Catherine Gathu, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Felix Agoi, Department of Population Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya
Fleur De Meijer, Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya


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Abstract

Over the last decades, increased emission of greenhouse gases has led to hot weather extremes, heavy precipitation and worsening of agricultural and ecological droughts. Although Africa’s contribution to climate change is minimal, the continent is especially vulnerable to its effects. This report aims to describe the effect of climate change leading to drought in Kilifi County, Kenya, and the communities’ experiences of this effect on food availability. During their community rotation, residents from a university in Nairobi, Kenya, evaluated changes in weather patterns and nutrition indicators in Kilifi County and conducted focus group discussions (FGDs) with community members and health care stakeholders to explore challenges in access to adequate nutrition and possible local solutions. Kilifi County has one of the highest rates of undernutrition in Kenya, with one in five under-5 children being underweight. County data showed that rainfall in the last 4 years has become increasingly unpredictable, resulting in reduced household milk production, one of the indicators of nutrition security. Three major themes emerged from the FGDs: lack of food variety, collapse of drought mitigating projects and increasing poverty levels. Possible solutions to these problems include promoting alternatives to the current diet that are culturally sensitive and adaptable to recent climate changes, ensuring continuity of agricultural and financial support projects and improved local leadership and governance.

Keywords

climate change; nutrition; food security; communities’ experience; Kenya.

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