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Hunger and Food Insecurity in Nairobi's Slums: An assessment using IRT models'

  • FAYE Ousmane
  • BASCHIERI Angela
  • FALKINGHAM Jane
  • MUINDI Kanyiva

Although linked to poverty as conditions reflecting inadequate access to resources to obtain food, issues such as hunger and food insecurity have seldom been recognized as important in urban settings. Overall, little is known about the prevalence and magnitude of hunger and food insecurity in most cities. Yet, in sub-Saharan Africa where the majority of urban dwellers live on less than one dollar a day, it is obvious a large proportion of the urban population must be satisfied with just one meal a day. This paper suggests using the one- and two-parameter item response theory (IRT) models to infer a reliable and valid measure of hunger and food insecurity relevant to low income urban settings, drawing evidence from the Nairobi Urban Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS). The reliability and accuracy of the items are tested using both the Mokken Scale Analysis and the Cronbach test. The validity of the inferred household food insecurity measure is assessed by examining how it is associated with households? economic status. Results show that food insecurity is pervasive amongst slum dwellers in Nairobi. Only one household in five is food secure, and nearly half of all households are categorized as ?food insecure with both adult and child hunger?. Moreover, in line with what is known about household allocation of resources, evidence indicates that parents often forego food in order to prioritize their children. (229 words)

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Paper provided by LISER in its series LISER Working Paper Series with number 2010-33.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2010
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:irs:cepswp:2010-33
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  1. Shaohua Chen & Martin Ravallion, 2010. "The Developing World Is Poorer Than We Thought, but No Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1577-1625, November.
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  6. Xiaohui Zheng & Sophia Rabe-Hesketh, 2007. "Estimating parameters of dichotomous and ordinal item response models with gllamm," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 7(3), pages 313-333, September.
  7. Maxwell, Daniel G. & Levin, Carol E. & Armar-Klemesu, Margaret & Ruel, Marie T. & Morris, Saul Sutkover & Ahiadeke, Clement, 2000. "Urban livelihoods and food and nutrition security in Greater Accra, Ghana:," Research reports 112, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  8. Andrews, Margaret S. & Nord, Mark, 2001. "Food Security Is Improving in the United States," Agricultural Information Bulletins 33641, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  9. Nord, Mark & Andrews, Margaret S. & Carlson, Steven, 2002. "Household Food Security In The United States, 2001," Food Assistance and Nutrition Research Reports 33865, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  10. Ruel, Marie T. & Garrett, James L. & Morris, Saul Sutkover & Maxwell, Daniel G. & Oshaug, Arne & Engle, Patrice L. & Menon, Purnima & Slack, Alison T. & Haddad, Lawrence James, 1998. "Urban challenges to food and nutrition security," FCND discussion papers 51, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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