Predictors of social support, physical health and mental health among food insecure internally displaced persons in Turkana, Kenya

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Catherine Gichunge, Daniel Mutiso & Jenny Brynjarsdottir



Food insecurity and the mental and physical health of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is a public health concern. The aim of this study was to determine the predictors of social support, physical and mental health among food insecure IDPs in Nakwamekwei IDP camp in Turkana, Kenya.


A cross sectional study was conducted among 159 household heads living in the camp. Analysis was conducted using statistical summaries, logistic regression and linear regression.


Ninety four percent (94%) of the households were severely food insecure and the rest of the households had moderate food insecurity. Majority of the household heads (77%) had symptoms of depression and those with five or more children were 3 times (95%CI, 1.31–9.24; p = 0.015) more likely to be have symptoms of depression, while those who were married were less likely to have the same (95%CI, 0.14–0.92; p = 0.038). Seventy six percent (76%) of the household heads had anxiety symptoms; none of the predictor variables were significantly associated with anxiety symptoms in the adjusted analysis. Those who had spent many years in the camp, were older, and had more children had significantly poorer physical health (p = 0.042, p = 0.001, and p = 0.047, respectively). Those who were married and those who had experienced violence in the current camp had significantly higher social support (p = 0.001 and p = 0.006, respectively).


Participants have been living in camp for the last 10 years hence the need to improve their living conditions, address their physical and mental health as well as food insecurity. This can be done by providing the participants with safe drinking water, constructing pit latrines to prevent communicable disease and adhere to the Sphere recommendations for sanitation and hygiene as well as training them in income generating activities to mitigate the high unemployment and food insecurity rates. The IDPs should be integrated into the local community to bring an end to their protracted displacement.