Gender and sociocultural factors in animal source foods (ASFs) access and consumption in lower-income households in urban informal settings of Nairobi, Kenya

Background Gender shapes household decision-making and access for nutritious diets, including animal source foods (ASFs) that impact on child health and nutrition status. However, research shows that the poorest households in the urban informal settlements of Nairobi have low ASFs consumption. This study was conducted to explore further from a qualitative perspective the gender, sociocultural factors affecting household ASF consumption this study. Methods To explore further on the topic of study, an exploratory qualitative study was carried out to establish the factors that influence access, allocation and consumption of animal source foods (ASFs) by households in urban informal settings of Nairobi. Nineteen focus group discussions with men and women were conducted to enable in-depth exploration of ASFs consumption. Results Gender influences decision-making of household ASFs dietary intake. Gendered power dynamics prevail with men as breadwinners and household heads often determining the food access and consumption of ASFs. Women are increasingly accessing short-term waged-based incomes in urban informal settings and now play a role in food and nutrition security for their households. This enforces the idea that women’s decision-making autonomy is an important aspect of women empowerment, as it relates to women’s dietary diversity and subsequently, better household nutritional status. As evidenced in this study, if a woman has bargaining power based on accessing incomes to support their household food needs, she will not jeopardize food security. The mobile digital money platform was key in enabling access to resources to access food. Use of trust to access food on credit and purchasing smaller packaged quantities of food were also enablers to access of food/ASFs.