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Title: The Effects of Herding Practices and Lifestyle Choices on Child Health in Pastoralist Kenya
Authors: Kim-Brookes, Phia
Advisors: Rubenstein, Daniel
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Certificate Program: Global Health and Health Policy Program
Class Year: 2023
Abstract: Pastoralism is a crucial economic, agricultural, and cultural practice in the arid and semi- arid land (ASAL) regions of Kenya. Communities of pastoralists almost solely rely on their practices as herders of goats, sheep, cows, and camels for sustenance in the form of milk, meat, and blood. These animal-source foods (ASFs) provide the main nutritional elements for growing children in these areas and thus, are a critical axis to understand in order to gather a detailed picture of child health in Kenya, a country with high rates of child malnutrition and food scarcity. This study focused on a representative sample of pastoralists and their 3-year-old children in a Masaai community in northern rural Kenya during a drought season. For a two-month period, data was collected on herding paths, range quality, quantity of milk production, parasite loads, body mass index of all child subjects, and socioeconomic factors of each family such as the presence of income outside of pastoralism and family size. The findings of this study suggest that preexisting notions of pastoralist strategy are not efficient in times of drought, resulting in the reduction of nutritional uptake in children. It is recommended that, in times of drought, heavily parasitized areas should be avoided when herding animals through a landscape in order to protect herd health and increase milk production. Family size should also be considered and, if possible, reduced in order to increase milk availability to each child in a family. And pastoralist families should consider looking to supplemental sources of income as a means to bolster pastoralist outputs by investing in a herd’s size.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1992-2023
Global Health and Health Policy Program, 2017-2023

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