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Fishing for food? Analyzing links between fishing livelihoods and food security around Lake Victoria, Kenya


Food-producing livelihoods have the potential to improve food security and nutrition through direct consumption or indirectly through income. To better understand these pathways, we examined if fishing households ate more fish and had higher food security than non-fishing households around Lake Victoria, Kenya. In 2010, we randomly sampled 111 households containing 583 individuals for a cross-sectional household survey in a rural fishing community. We modeled the associations between fish consumption and food security and fishing household status, as well as socio-economic variables (asset index, monthly income, household size) for all households and also for a subset of households with adult male household members (76 % of households). Participating in fishing as a livelihood was not associated with household fish consumption or food security. Higher household fish consumption was associated with higher household income and food security, and was weakly associated with lower household morbidity. Household food security was associated with higher incomes and asset index scores. Our results suggest socioeconomic factors may be more important than participation in food-producing livelihoods for predicting household consumption of high quality foods.

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We are grateful for support from the Organic Health Response-Ekialo Kiona Center’s Research Department, staff and volunteers, Family AIDS Care and Education Services (FACES), Mfangano East Community Health Workers, and the people of Mfangano Island. We thank Lister Omondi, Gor Bernard, Victor Owino, Elisabeth Gunderson, Kris Coontz, Caroline Christian, and Alan Jew. We thank, also, the faculty and staff who supported this work as a part of the UCSF-UCB Global Health Framework Program, which was funded by grant 5R25TW7512-3 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)/Fogarty International Center. This work was partly supported by NSF-GEO grant CNH115057; an Andrew and Mary Thompson Rocca Pre-dissertation Fellowship, Sara’s Wish Foundation, National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (to KJF); Doris Duke Charitable Foundation International Clinical Research Fellowship (to MDH); UCSF Dean’s Research Fellowship (to JMN); UCSF PACCTR and Global Health Pathways Research Program (to CRS). This study is published with the permission of the Director, KEMRI.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Correspondence to Kathryn J. Fiorella.



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Fiorella, K.J., Hickey, M.D., Salmen, C.R. et al. Fishing for food? Analyzing links between fishing livelihoods and food security around Lake Victoria, Kenya. Food Sec. 6, 851–860 (2014).

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  • Food insecurity
  • Livelihoods
  • Socio-ecologic systems
  • Lake Victoria
  • Fish
  • Nile perch
  • Animal source foods