Impacts of droughts on undernutrition among children aged under five in Ethiopia

Dimitrova, A. (2020). Impacts of droughts on undernutrition among children aged under five in Ethiopia. IIASA Working Paper. Laxenburg: WP-20-012

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Chronic seasonal crop and livestock loss due to heat stress and rainfall shortages can pose a serious threat to human health, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa where subsistence and small-scale farming dominate. Young children are particularly susceptible to undernutrition when households experience food insecurity because nutritional deficiencies affect their growth and development. With crop yields projected to be affected by climate change, this can potentially pose serious health impacts on children. However, the evidence is inconclusive and rather limited to small-scale local contexts. Furthermore, little is known about the differential impacts of climatic shocks on health of population subgroups. This study aims to investigate the impacts of climate variability on child health using data from three nationwide Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for Ethiopia conducted in 2005, 2011 and 2016 (n=22,467). Undernutrition, measured as stunting, wasting and being underweight among children under five, is used as a health indicator. Climate variability is measured by the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI), a multi-scalar drought index. This study finds a negative association between SPEI and the risk of stunting and being underweight, especially for children exposed to droughts during the first two years of life. The climate impacts vary with population subgroups whereby boys and children whose mothers have no formal education are more vulnerable to drought exposure. Those living in the rural area and whose households are engaged in agricultural activities are also more likely to be affected. This suggests that nutritional intervention should target these particularly vulnerable groups of children.

Item Type: Monograph (IIASA Working Paper)
Research Programs: World Population (POP)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 06 Aug 2020 11:45
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:33

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