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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Public Health Nutrition
Title How does poverty affect children’s nutritional status in Nairobi slums? A qualitative study of the root causes of undernutrition
Volume 20
Issue 4
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2017
Page numbers 608-619
Objective: Children in slums are at high risk of undernutrition, which has long-term
negative consequences on their physical growth and cognitive development.
Severe undernutrition can lead to the child’s death. The present paper aimed to
understand the causes of undernutrition in children as perceived by various
groups of community members in Nairobi slums, Kenya.
Design: Analysis of ten focus group discussions and ten individual interviews with
key informants. The main topic discussed was the root causes of child
undernutrition in the slums. The focus group discussions and key informant
interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcripts were coded in
NVivo by extracting concepts and using a constant comparison of data across the
different categories of respondents to draw out themes to enable a thematic analysis.
Setting: Two slum communities in Nairobi, Kenya.
Subjects: Women of childbearing age, community health workers, elders, leaders
and other knowledgeable people in the two slum communities (n 90).
Results: Participants demonstrated an understanding of undernutrition in children.
Conclusions: Findings inform target criteria at community and household level that
can be used to identify children at risk of undernutrition. To tackle the immediate
and underlying causes of undernutrition, interventions recommended should aim
to: (i) improve maternal health and nutrition; (ii) promote optimal infant and
young children feeding practices; (iii) support mothers in their working role;
(iv) increase access to family planning; (v) improve water, sanitation and hygiene
(WASH); (vi) address alcohol problems at all levels; and (vii) address street food
issues with infant feeding counselling.

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