Food insecurity is still prevalent in many parts of the world. Despite several research attempts to alleviate food insecurity in Kenya, estimates indicate that approximately 50% of Kenyans are food insecure with 10% in constant need of food relief. One of the causes of food insecurity as it has been reported by other scholars is gender inequality. Women, especially in developing countries have been reported to significantly contribute to food production compared to men while in decision making they are often subordinate to men. However, the role of intra-household decision making in influencing food security remains unclear. This study therefore sought to examine the implication of intra-household decision making on household food security among the smallholder farmers in Chepalungu constituency, Bomet County Kenya. Multistage sampling method was used to obtain a sample of 150 smallholder farmer households. Structured questionnaires and interviews were used to obtain the information. Data analysis was done using descriptive statistics, Logit and Poisson models with the use of SPSS and STATA computer programs. The results indicated that majority (52.7%) of the households were food insecure signifying high level of food shortages in the area. Male headed households were found to be food insecure as compared to their female counterparts. The logistic regression results revealed that age, gender, land size, household size, years of education and income significantly influenced household food security. The results also revealed the probability of household being food secure is high when consumption decisions are made by women than when they are made by men. The study proves that intra-household decision making has an important role to play in influencing household food security. Therefore, gender based resource allocation and women empowerment policies should be encouraged in order to ensure that households are food secure.

Background to the Study 
The concept of food security is multidimensional, encompassing food affordability, availability, adequacy, quality and safety. According to The State of Food Insecurity 2001, food security is defined as a situation that exists when all people at all times have physical, social and economic access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an healthy and active life (FAO, 2002). Therefore, food insecurity arises when there is limited availability of adequate and safe foods or low capacity to obtain such foods. According to FAO (2012), food insecurity in the world still remain high with approximately 842 million people being food insecure, and developing countries account for 98 per cent of this global estimates. 

In Kenya approximately 10% of the total population live in chronic state of food insecurity (USDA, 2009), the most vulnerable of whom include women and children (Kimani-Murage, 2011). Although women constitute 75 % of Kenya‟s agricultural labour force, gender inequalities undermine their productivity including limited access to essential resources and institutionalised barriers to credit and land ownership (IDS, 2006). In Kenya, food accessibility relies on agriculture as nearly 80% of its population lives in rural areas, deriving their livelihood from agriculture for food and income, implying that the agriculture sector will continue to play a key role in improving food security and reducing poverty. Therefore, agriculture sector in Kenya is still the backbone of the country‟s economy contributing 26% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 60% of the export earnings (GOK, 2008). 

Households are defined as two or more closely related persons living under a common roof (Kirchler, 1999). In rural Kenya, households depend on Agriculture for their livelihoods in generating food security, employment and income (Bett et al., 2007). Initial models of the household assumed a unitary framework that treated the household as a single production and consumption unit. This simply assumes away all of the dynamics of decision-making within the household. The unitary model implies that the distribution of income or assets or other measures of bargaining power within the household does not affect outcomes. However, qualitative research and analyses done by early researchers on women in development issues challenged these notions and new theoretical models work developed three broad categories of collective models of the household decision making: Cooperative bargaining models, collective models and non-cooperative bargaining models (Doss, 1996). 

The influence of decision making affects the distribution of resources, wealth, work, political supremacy, the enjoyment of rights and entitlements within the family as well as public life (DAW, 1999). To effectively examine women‟s role in decision making in the household it is important to discuss gender relations. Gender relations are critical in determining structural roles that men and women play in social relations such as household decision making. In most cases society characterizes gender in concept of masculinity and femininity (Sharon, 2013). Identifying individuals‟ differential power on access to resources and benefits is the fundamental feature of gender analysis, and ensuring equitable access and distribution will enhance food security. 

Sharon (2013) explained the different roles and responsibilities that men and women have in their individual lives, families, households, and in their communities. Individual and household food security is mediated by individual actions and the choices they make in acquiring assets, producing food, feeding and caring for family members. Thus, it is critical to maximize these individuals‟ contributions by ensuring their equitable access to and control over the resources needed to meet their roles and responsibilities. Indeed, overcoming gender-based inequities in resource access and decision-making could very much enhance women‟s contributions to food security and its nutritional benefits (UNFPA, 1999). According to World Bank (2008), failure to realize women potential in agriculture as one of the contributing factor to low growth led agriculture and food security as it is observed that majority of the smallholders farmers are women. Additionally, improving women‟s health and nutrition, and their access to education and training opportunities, enhances their human capital as an input to ensuring individual and household food security. 

The role of women in the household has been considered a critical issue in changing the social and economic position and the well-being of household members. While both men and women are income earners and agricultural producers, women also prepare and process food, and use their income for their children‟s benefit (Carr, 1991; Thomas, 1997). Women also provide the majority of care for their families, take their children to health services, and ensure a healthy environment, the very components of good nutrition (Levin et al., 1999). Ironically women make these critical contributions with limited access to necessary resources, low decision making on allocation and use of those resources, and the derived benefits (Johnson-Welch, 1999). From the foregoing and considering the importance of intra- household as a motivating unit for increased food production and the participation of men and women in national development, there has to be a well-guided incentives and policy to increase intra-household wellbeing and reduce gender inequity in decision-making especially in those decisions regarding household food security status. 

According to KFSN (2011), over 10 per cent of people in Kenya are food insecure with majority of them living under food relief. However, scanty documentations about Chepalungu constituency exist and yet food insecurity cases among the households are frequently reported. Worth noting is that the role which intra-household decision making plays remain unclear. Thus, this study sought to establish the influence on intra-household decision making and its implication on food security among smallholder farmers in Chepalungu Constituency, Bomet County, Kenya.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 58 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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