Community Food System Data Tables


Map of Location of Maasai TribeThis field study was carried out in the Enkereyian, Maasai community located in Ngong Division, Kajiado District, Kenya. The community is 70 km directly south of the city of Nairobi and extends 50 km towards Lake Magadi (Figure 1). Approximately 30000 inhabitants are distributed in 200 village units and speak exclusively Maa within the community.

The majority of the population obtains their livelihood through husbandry of cattle, goat and sheep. Families in the community supplement their income by sale of milk, livestock and wild products, primarily charcoal and firewood.

The overall goal of the study was to improve the health and nutritional status of the Maasai community while preserving indigenous knowledge (and foods) and conserving the environment. Data on the use of both traditional and market foods were gathered through group discussions and key-informant interviews.

The study team comprised of the following:

  • Joseph Ole Simel, Mainyoito Pastoralist Integrated Development Organization (MPIDO);
  • Ruth Oniang’o, Rural Outreach Program (ROP), Kenya;
  • Dr. Timothy Johns, Centre for Indigenous Peoples’ Nutrition and Environment (CINE);

Notes on food groups

Users should be aware that the data presented here do not represent absolute values. The purpose of this publication is to present a true reflection of the usual composition of foods available and/or consumed among Maasai community members. This is a living document and nutrient information will be added and/or updated when available..

Traditionally, the Maasai rely on meat, milk and blood from their cattle to meet their nutritional needs, with the addition of certain wild herbs and fruits. Seasonality of use, harvest information, type of procurement and other relevant information were collected through household and key informant interviews.

In total, 65 different foods were identified in the food system and food composition studies. Of these, analyses of vitamin and mineral of 11 wild fruits and 16 herbs were carried out in laboratories of the University of Nairobi. Samples were collected and identified in the East African Herbarium before being sent for analyses. Nutrient composition for the ten commonly consumed meat and dairy foods was sourced from the “National Food Composition Tables and The Planning of Satisfactory Diets in Kenya” (Sehmi 1993). Nutrient profile of these 37 foods is reported under the following food groups:

  1. Animal and Dairy Foods
  2. Herbs
  3. Roots, Leafy Vegetables and Wild Fruit

Notes on food components

There are approximately 15 components in the main body of the tables, which are presented in a fixed format for each record.

All energy values are calculated from the energy-producing food components using the following conversion factors:.

  1. Carbohydrate 4 kcal/g
  2. Protein 4 kcal/g
  3. Fat 9 kcal/g

The information on the analytical details for the majority of the components and conversion factors for some nutrients can be obtained from the referenced literature.

Vitamin A values are reported in both Vitamin A retinol equivalents (RE-µg) and in retinol activity equivalents (RAE-µg). These values are calculated and reported only for foods where retinol, beta carotene and total carotene values are available. Vitamin A RAE values are reported for compatibility with the DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) recommendations.

Carotene values reported in the “National Food Composition Tables and The Planning of Satisfactory Diets in Kenya”, were assumed to be total carotene values. Hence, Vitamin A retinol equivalents (RE-µg) and the retinol activity equivalents (RAE-µg) were calculated using the 1/12 and 1/24 factors respectively.


  1. Analyzed at the University of Nairobi.
  2. Sehmi, J. K. 1993. National Food Composition Tables and The Planning of Satisfactory Diets in Kenya. The Government Printer, Nairobi, Kenya. 1993
  3. http://www/ hours.htm (Note: This website does not exist anymore).
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