Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition, Aging and Chronic Disease, Obesity
As many households in Ethiopia are food insecure, seasonal malnutrition could be an important public health problem related to food availability. Ethiopia requires effective community-based nutrition interventions to curb childhood malnutrition. Improving our understanding of the association between the agricultural cycle, rainfall pattern, and malnutrition is important. The objective of this paper was to evaluate the risks of food insecurity, wasting, and stunting among children in households of the Sidama Zone of Ethiopia during different seasons.
A cohort study design was employed in the chronically food insecure Boricha area. Data was collected on Pre-harvest season (March and June) and Post-harvest season (September and December) of 2017. Post-harvest season was food plenty season. We studied 935 mothers-child (aged 6 to 47 months) pairs from 894 households.
Results : At four seasons over a year, we did 3,449 measurement (894 households) and 82% (2,816) (95% CI: 80.3-82.9) were food in-secured. Severe food insecurity was higher in March (69%) as compared to 50% of September (X2=55.5, P< 0.001). From 3,488 measurements, 44% (1,533) (95% CI: 42.3-45.6) of children were stunted. Stunting showed seasonal variations with 38% (95% CI: 34.7-41.0) in March and 49% (95% CI: 45.8-52.5) in December (X2=22, P< 0.001). Six percent (95% CI: 5.0-6.6) of children were wasted, with higher prevalence in March (8%) as compared to 3% of September (X2=20, P< 0.001). Multivariate risk analysis showed that wasting was higher among poor households, households with uneducated fathers, food in-secured households, and among children with recent illness. Stunting was higher among poor households and in households with low education.
The highest prevalence of wasting and food insecurity occurred in the same season. However, stunting occurred some months after the period with highest prevalence of food insecurity. Such a finding could have implications in evaluating the effect of interventions as the time relationship between food security and acute and chronic malnutrition differs.
Funding Sources : Norwegian Programme for Capacity Development in Higher Education and Research for Development (NORHED); South Ethiopia Network Universities in Public Health (SENUPH).