More than half of households in Nairobi are depending on food handouts from rural relatives for survival.
The frequency of food transfers from rural areas to city relatives varies between once per week or at least six times in a year.
The most transferred foods are maize, beans, traditional vegetables, chicken, eggs as well as fruits, shows a new study on food remittances from rural Kenya to Nairobi.
“Forty six per cent of households receiving food transfers indicated that this food is very important.”
Over three-quarters, about 80 per cent, of recipients said that they engaged in the practice to help the family feed itself.
The study by the University of Nairobi, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Canada, and Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada, found female headed household more likely to receive food remittances compared to male headed families.
The study used data from the Food Security Household Survey for Nairobi City which had engaged 1,434 households across the county.
The survey covered randomly selected households in 23 of the 111 administrative sub-locations of Nairobi.
The study covered from Kibera, Korogocho, and Mathare where poverty levels are over 60 per cent to Eastlands where half of residents are poor to Kileleshwa, Runda, and Karen where poverty is almost nonexistent.
The data shows 70 per cent of household heads in the county of 4.3 million people were born in rural areas.
“Only about two in every ten household heads were born in Nairobi,” say the study published in the journal Environments, this month.
Surprisingly, households headed by ‘born-city, the report shows are more likely to have received food remittances from rural areas compared to those headed by migrants.
“As many as 54 per cent of households with city-born heads received food remittances in the previous year compared with 52 percent of households with migrant heads,” says the study.
While city migrants are also likely to send money to rural areas mainly through MPESA, this the study says is not dependent on food remittances.
Eight out of every ten households receiving food transfers, obtain them from relatives in rural areas (see chart) and an insignificant number from within the city.
“Larger households and female-centered households are marginally more likely to be receiving food transfers than smaller households.”
The study also found migrants of all ages, and therefore all lengths of urban residence continue to receive food remittances from the countryside.
By Gatonye Gathura