Author(s): Jane KabuboMariaraa, Godfrey K Ndengeb, Domisiano K Mwabu
This paper uses a pooled sample of the 1998 and 2003 Demographic and Health Survey data sets for Kenya to analyse the determinants of children's nutritional status. We investigate the impact of child, parental, household and community characteristics on children's height and on the probability of stunting. Descriptive and econometric analysis, augmented by policy simulations, is employed to achieve the objectives of the study. In estimation, we control for sample design and possible heterogeneity arising from unobserved community characteristics correlated with children's nutritional status and its determinants. The key findings are that boys suffer more malnutrition than girls, and children of multiple births are more likely to be malnourished than singletons. The results further indicate that maternal education is a more important determinant of children's nutritional status than paternal education. Household assets are also important determinants of children's nutritional status but nutrition improves at a decreasing rate with assets. The use of public health services, more-so modern contraceptives, is also found to be an important determinant of child nutritional status. Policy simulations affirm the potential role of parental, household and community characteristics in reducing long-term malnutrition in Kenya and suggest that the correct policy mix would make a substantial reduction in the current high levels of malnutrition. Our findings suggest that, if Kenya is to achieve her strategic health objectives and millennium development target of reducing the prevalence of malnutrition, strategies for poverty alleviation, promotion of post secondary education for women and provision of basic preventive health care are critical concerns that need to be addressed.