Agriculture plays a vital role in the Kenyan economy. It helps in poverty mitigation and ensuring food security. In agriculture, women constitute the majority of small-scale farmers in Kenya, providing 89% of subsistence farming labor force and 70% of the cash crop labor force. However, they have limited access to land which hinders them from making the most constructive use of their time and energy in the agricultural sector and thus affecting household nutritional outcomes. Therefore, this study sought to determine the factors influencing women access to land and the effects of women access to land on household nutritional outcomes among small-scale women farmers. Multi-stage sampling technique was used to select 384 small-scale women farmers from Machakos County who were interviewed using a pre-tested semi-structured questionnaire. The household nutritional outcomes were measured using Households Dietary Diversity scores (HDDS) and Household Hunger Scale Scores (HHS). Data was analyzed using Chi-square test, double hurdle and Heterogeneous Treatment Effects (HTE) models. The results indicated that there existed a significant relationship between women access to land and the choice of farm enterprises since the chi-value of 374.84 was statistically significant at 1%. A higher percentage of women (46.2%) who had access to land were involved in food crop and livestock farming whereas 66.8% of those who did not have access to land were predominantly involved in livestock farming. Women access to land was positively influenced by household size, the value of productive assets, credit borrowed, extension contacts, social influence and the main source of agricultural information. However, it was negatively influenced by marital status, spousal age gap and distance to the market. The results also revealed that all households benefitted positively but differently from women’s access to land in terms of nutrition outcomes. The maximum number of food groups consumed by households in which women had access to land were 12 food groups whereas for their counterparts it was 7 food groups. The highly consumed food groups were cereals (98.7%), vegetables (86.5%), oil/fats (91.7%), sugar/honey (98.4%) and miscellaneous/condiments (98.4%). Therefore, the study concluded that; women access and the extent of access to land is influenced by both women socio-economic and institutional factors. Most importantly, it was evident that women access to land had a great potential to improve household nutritional outcomes. Thus, the study recommended that in order to improve women access to land, women need to be motivated to join and participate in farmers’ groups through which they could gain access to extension information and credit. In addition, women farmers should be sensitized on the need to invest in farm productive assets in order to enhance their bargaining power in the household and absorb risks associated with farming.

Background information 
Agriculture is the mainstay of Kenya’s economy, currently contributing about 30% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The sector accounts for about 65% of Kenya’s total exports; provides employment to more than 80% of the population and it is a source of livelihood for close to 80% of the Kenyan population living in the rural areas (KNBS, 2016). Hence, agriculture is seen as the main pathway contributing to poverty reduction and food and nutrition security (Kirimi et al., 2013; Verhart et al., 2015). As a result, it is among the key economic sectors expected to steer the Kenyan economy to a projected 10 percent economic growth yearly through the promotion of commercially-oriented and innovative agriculture (Kirimi et al., 2013; KNBS, 2016). 

Small-scale farmers constitute the majority of agricultural producers in Kenya and produce about 63% of the total food that is consumed in the country (FAO, 2015). Therefore, small- scale agriculture is seen as one of the options contributing to farmers’ income as well as encouraging household food diversification and eventually leads to improved household access to food. However, their productivity is hampered by limited access to land, low input use, insufficient and poorly maintained market infrastructures, limited/no access to extension services, use of obsolete technology and climate change (Kirimi et al., 2013). Small-scale agriculture tends to be labor intensive and mostly uses family labor with women providing 43 percent of the total agricultural labor force (SIDA, 2015). In Kenya, land is a vital resource because it is the principal source of living and material wealth for the majority of small-scale farmers in rural areas. 

Access to land is a crucial issue because it is a valuable asset that is used for household food production as well as a key factor for shelter and community development. Land access is the process by which people either individually or collectively gain rights and opportunities to control and utilize land on a temporary or permanent basis (Khalid et al., 2015). The way land is owned, used and exchanged has extensive implications on the productivity of that land, equity and overall economic growth (Jin and Jayne, 2013). Adequate and safe access to productive land is crucial to a large number of small-scale poor farmers residing in rural areas in Kenya who depend on agriculture for their livelihood (Kirimi et al., 2013). This is because it downgrades their vulnerability to hunger, malnutrition and poverty as well as enhances their participation in productive activities (Kirimi et al., 2013; Gyau et al., 2014; Menon et al., 2014; Doss et al., 2015). 

According to World Bank (2012), women especially in many developing countries, are facing gender discrimination in terms of access to productive resources, which is fundamentally driven by gendered customary institutions, perceptions and norms. Gender inequality can be a cause and effect of hunger and malnutrition since gender and nutrition are inseparable parts of the vicious cycle of poverty (FAO, 2011a). However, there are four key pathways linking agriculture and nutrition, that is; gender-related factors, income from agricultural activities, subsistence agriculture and food prices (Carletto et al., 2015). Agriculture and household nutrition outcomes can thus be achieved by establishing a link between diversity in crop production, dietary diversity and women empowerment. Crop and dietary diversity among small-scale farmers are believed to be spearheaded by women empowerment (Doss et al. 2011). Land tenure formalization is one of the potential catalysts for women empowerment and economic development. Empowering women through access to resources such as land gives them household bargaining power besides financial security (Doss et al. 2011; Doss et al., 2015). This may improve household welfare because women are more likely than men to concentrate more on producing food crops for subsistence purposes rather than cash crops (FAO, 2012; Wiig, 2013; Kassie et al., 2014). This may enhance household food security and also improve the nutritional status of children since women are predominantly the caregivers in the household. 

In terms of nutrition, small-scale women farmers who have access to land have a tendency of producing a wide variety of foods and spending a large proportion of their revenues on food expenditures, thus, improving their household dietary diversity and caloric intake (Kirimi et al., 2013). This is because women provide about 80% of the agricultural labor and account for about 60% of farm-derived income (FIDA, 2012; Kassie et al., 2014). In addition, through owning land, women are able to use it as a form of collateral for obtaining credit especially for financing agricultural production and start-up businesses (Lambrecht, 2016). The credit obtained can be used to procure the recommended agricultural inputs required for agricultural production and also through investing in non-farm businesses, they are able to bring changes in household incomes and eventually changes in their household nutritional outcomes. In addition, credit obtained can be used to purchase agricultural productive assets which improve their liquidity position in order to absorb risks in agriculture. Regardless of women being the driving force behind subsistence farming and food security, which play an integral role in the household well-being and the economy as a whole, they still cannot fully exercise their right to property especially land (Kassie et al., 2014). 

Due to the existence of gender discrimination in Kenya, the quest for development has led to a consensus that participation by both men and women as equal partners is fundamental for the sustained intervention of gender equality (World Bank, 2012). Also, gender and economic development issues in developing countries, Kenya included, continue to draw the attention of the researchers and policymakers (Meinzen-dick et al., 2010; Ndiritu et al., 2014; Lambrecht, 2016). This is because women play a key role in the agricultural sector and the economy in general. Therefore, the Government of Kenya has embarked on several strategies aimed at improving gender equality, for instance, through the constitution. In 2010 constitution of Kenya, there are several provisions that guarantee the rights of women to own property including land. For example, Article 40 (1) of the Constitution has entrenched equal rights for every person, either as an individual or in association with others, to procure and own property of any description in any part of Kenya (FIDA, 2012). Marriage and inheritance laws in the constitution provide another way of enhancing gender equality in the country. 

Despite the fact that there are women’s land rights or land laws protected in the constitution in Kenya, in reality, these rights are precluded by gendered customs and social attitudes due to poor implementation of the laws (Odeny, 2013). Therefore, the main source of restriction which is the customary practices and laws continue to prohibit women from owning property especially land. In Machakos County, gender inequality exists in property ownership especially land. According to Harington (2010), Kenyan women particularly the married women with no exception of women from Machakos County hold an exceptionally small proportion of registered title deeds. This not only denies women access to economic sustenance but also leave them socially ostracized (Makena et al., 2014).

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 70 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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