Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Determinants of Health and Nutritional Status of Rural Nigerian Women

Academic journal article Journal of Health Population and Nutrition

Determinants of Health and Nutritional Status of Rural Nigerian Women

Article excerpt


The nutritional and health status of women is of great concern in the contemporary world, because the multiple roles played by women give rise to serious health and nutritional problems (1,2). The situation is even worse in countries where societal norms and sex discrimination Health and nutritional status of Nigerian women 321 have forcefully subjected women to satisfy the health and nutritional needs of their families at their own expense. Women are, thus, vulnerable to malnutrition for social and biological reasons.

Recently, efforts have been made to improve women's economic independence in Nigeria by introducing Better Life for Rural Women and Family Support Programmes (FSP) to ensure a more equitable role for women in the community. As in other regions, African women are an indispensable part of human resources for development. Their quality of life is very important for their effective participation in development. This study, therefore, aims at identifying the underlying factors affecting the health and nutrition of rural Nigerian women. The information gathered is expected to help plan and implement a comprehensive package for improving their health and nutritional status.


Study area

Two rural farming communities--Eha-Amufu and Adani--in Enugu State, Nigeria, were selected because the economic activities of women in these two communities are similar. Familiarity of the researchers with the language and cultural practices of the local people was another determining factor. The predominant economic activities of women in the two communities include farming, trading, and teaching. The agricultural system varies from rotational fallow in the low-density area to semi-permanent cultivation in the high-density area. The farmers still use primitive tools, such as hoe and machete.

The major crops grown include root-crops, such as yam (Dioscorea alata) and cassava (Manihot esculenta), and rice (Oryza sativa). Livestock, such as goats, pigs and sheep, and poultry, such as ducks and fowls, are raised for cash and also serve as sources of animal protein and manure.

Population and sample-size determination

The study was carried out to determine the effects of socioeconomic and cultural factors on the health and nutritional status of women. Of adult women in sub-Saharan Africa, 10-40% have mild-to-moderate chronic energy deficiency (3). Based on this, we estimated that 10% of the teachers and 30% of both farmers and traders suffer from malnutrition. The sample size was calculated using the formula:

n = 2p(1 - p)F/[D.sup.2]

Where, n=total number of women in each occupational group, p=estimated proportion of malnourished women, F=level of precision, and D=difference between the estimated proportions of malnourished women. A sample size of 67 was required for each occupational group. However, the researchers increased the sample size to 100 to make up for drop-outs. An equal number of women (50) from each occupational group in the two communities was studied bringing the total number of women in the study to 300.

Sampling: Three hundred respondents were included in the cross-sectional survey. A stratified sampling technique was employed. Three different strata, farmers, traders/market women, and teachers, were considered. The method of selecting respondents in each stratum differed due to their special characteristics. In the villages where the study was conducted, there were no streets. Families clustered in different locations. For farmers, the researchers randomly picked one in every four households in each cluster for the survey. The farmers were usually visited in the morning hours as the research was conducted during the pre-planting season. The traders/market women were located at the market places. The main market in each community was selected. One in every two market-stalls was randomly selected, and the traders were interviewed there. …

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