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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Reduced Livestock Ownership in Kenya Led to Nutrition Deficiencies

Land privatization in Kenya and other constraints on mobility have reduced livestock ownership and led to undernutrition and slower growth in children, according to two new studies from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.


[Photo: Dr. Lora Iannotti]

Researchers surveyed 200 households from 2000-2010 in two Kenyan communities where livelihoods traditionally relied on the herding of livestock. They found as land privatization occurred, those households that had herded livestock – called “pastoralists”  — began to rely more on wage labor, trade, and crop cultivation. Less milk production and increased dependence on maize and sugar led to inadequate intakes of vitamins A, B-12, and C.

“Pastoralists reside at an important crossroad with potential for positive or very negative health and development outcomes,” wrote Dr. Lora Iannotti, assistant professor at the Brown School and the lead author of the studies, and Dr. Carolyn Lesorogol, associate professor at the Brown School.

“Program and policy support to sustain and increase milk production could help ensure young child and youth nutrition. Improving access to animal source foods, milk particularly, seems a logical solution.”

The studies were published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology and in Current Anthropology.

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