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/ Policy brief

Combining nutrition education and rural livelihood support in Kenya

The arid and semi-arid areas (ASALs) of Kenya cover nearly 84 percent of the national land and thus present an enormous potential contribution to national agricultural production as well as basic food and income for farmers residing in these areas. About three in every ten Kenyan children aged below two years are stunted. According to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey conducted in 2014, Kitui county and West Pokot county had the highest stunting rates nationally at almost 46 percent. This is against a national average stunting rate of 26 percent.

There have been multiple past projects in Kitui county that aimed at improving food security and nutrition, including through the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding, growth monitoring, immunization, complementary feeding and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Increasing Smallholder Productivity and Profitability (ISPP) project, implemented between September 2016 and March 2020, was designed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to combine nutrition education with rural livelihood support.

This approach aimed at strengthening the capacity of smallholder farmers in agricultural production, water management, and farming as a business. Furthermore, it aimed at improving nutrition outcomes of targeted household members in the semi-arid counties of Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, Taita-Taveta, and Tharaka-Nithi. The project had a specific component on Trials of Improved Practices (TIPs), aimed at improving infant and young child feeding practices.