Do Kids Eat Better When Mom Has More Say on the Farm? Women’s Access to Land Resources and Childhood Nutritional Status in the Semi-Arid Regions of Kenya

June Y. T. Po, McGill University
Gordon Hickey, McGill University

Majority of smallholder farmers are women, yet less than 2% of women formally own farmlands in African countries. This study explores how women’s better access to land resources relates to their children’s nutritional status using anthropometry. Children and mothers from 221 households were sampled from two counties in semi-arid Kenya. Access to land resources is defined as the power to benefit from food crops, cash crops, decision-making participation on cultivated land. Significantly higher mean weight-for-height z-scores and weight-for-age z-scores of children were observed in households where women reported at least some participation in agricultural decisions compared with women who had very low involvement. Gender of household head augments the mean differences of anthropometric scores. When adjusted with mother’s education, age, and household wealth in multiple regression analysis, participation on the mother's part in farm decisions remains associated with children who have 0.30 standard deviation higher WHZ-scores.

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Presented in Session 137: Women's Empowerment and Child Education, Health, and Well-Being