Kinship, Nuptiality, and Child Health Outcomes in a Low Income Urban Area

Project Period

January 2021 - December 2025

This project is a mixed-method, longitudinal five-year study being carried out in the two communities within the Nairobi Health and Demographic Surveillance System (NUHDSS), Korogocho and Viwandani. The project builds on the success of an earlier project to develop and test the Kinship Support Tree (KST) to assess the quantity and quality of support from kin to single mothers and their children in a slum context in Nairobi, Kenya. In this project, we build on the KST study by incorporating a new measure of union formalization to advance our understanding of how kinship support and the context of mothers’ unions impact infant and child health and development. The importance of this study is underscored by the need to identify models of family support that offer optimum protection for vulnerable mothers and young children particularly in urban African settings.

Specific Objectives:

  • Develop a time-varying measure of union formalization that captures the involvement of kin in the protracted process through which unions are formalized.
  • Examine the effects of union formalization and kinship support on children’s physical growth and early childhood development (ECD).
  • Assess the extent to which union formalization moderates the effect of kinship support on physical growth and ECD outcomes and kinship support mediates the effect of union formalization on physical growth and ECD.
  • Assess the extent to which key intermediate outcomes, namely, breastfeeding/nutrition, maternal mental health, illness management, and child stimulation explain the relationships among kinship support, union formalization and physical growth, and ECD.
  • Examine the change in child outcomes across 6 waves of data collection.


  • University of Maryland, USA
  • US Army Directorate, Kisumu, Kenya



  • January 2021
  • December 2025


  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States


  • Co-Principal Investigator- Dr Estelle M Sidze
  • Co-investigators – Prof Blessing Mberu; Dr. Elizabeth Kimani and Dr. Patricia Wekulo
  • Project Manager- Dr. Maurice Mutisya
  • Research officer/Research coordinator- Ms. Caroline Wainaina
  • Research officer- Ms. Milka Omuya