Introduction: The disparity in under-five year-old mortality rates between rural and urban areas in Kenya (also reported in other in sub-Saharan African countries), is a critical national concern. The objective of this study was to investigate the influence of geographical location and maternal factors on the likelihood of mortality among under-five children in rural and urban areas in Kenya.
Methods: Data from the 2008-2009 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey were used to determine mortality among under-five children (n=16,162) in rural and urban areas in the 5 years preceding the survey. Multivariate analysis was used to compare the influence of key risk factors in rural and urban areas.
Results: Overall, the likelihood of death among under-five children in the rural areas was significantly higher than that in the urban areas (p<0.05). Household poverty was a key predictor for mortality in the rural areas, but the influence of breastfeeding was similar in the two areas. The likelihood of under-five mortality was significantly higher in the rural areas of Coast, Nyanza and Western Provinces than in Central Province.
Conclusions: The study shows that the determinants of under-five mortality differ in rural and urban areas in Kenya. Innovative and targeted strategies are required to address rural poverty and province-specific sociocultural factors in order to improve child survival in rural Kenya.