Abstract Background Sub-Saharan Africa currently has the highest prevalence of malnutrition worldwide. In children under the age of 5\ua0years, malnutrition can have long-term effects on physical and cognitive development, with implications at the national scale. Theoretically, livestock-based interventions are well placed to overcome constraints faced by micronutrient and/or food-based interventions. However, there is limited empirical evidence to support this hypothesis. Methods This study utilised agriculture, nutrition and anthropometry data from the Millennium Villages Project to investigate relationships between livestock ownership, animal source foods (ASF) consumption and child nutritional outcomes across seven rural village clusters in Sub-Saharan Africa. Village clusters were located in different agro-ecological zones and included: Bonsaaso, Ghana; Mayange, Rwanda; Mwandama, Malawi; Tiby, Mali; Pampaida, Nigeria; Potou, Senegal; and Ruhiira, Uganda. Data from 1624 households (including 1543 children) were included in the analysis. Results Overall, the proportion of children with stunting, underweight or wasting across the seven village clusters was 40, 18 and 5%, respectively. Livestock ownership, ASF consumption and child nutritional outcomes varied between village clusters. Households that owned livestock were generally more likely to consume associated ASF. For example, the proportion of households that consumed milk was higher in households that owned cows compared to those that did not in Pampaida, Mayange and Ruhiira ( P \ua0<\ua00.05), while poultry meat consumption was generally higher in poultry-keeping households in Mayange and Ruhiira ( P \ua0<\ua00.05). The relationship between ASF consumption and anthropometric measurements was complex, ranging from positively to negatively associated depending on the food commodity and village cluster. For instance, in Ruhiira, the mean weight-for-age Z score\ua0(WAZ) was significantly higher (better) in children from households that consumed eggs in the last 30\ua0days, while in Potou, mean WAZ was significantly lower (worse) in children from households that consumed eggs in the last 30\ua0days ( P \ua0<\ua00.05). Conclusions This study contributes to the growing body of research that investigates the relationships between livestock ownership, ASF consumption and nutritional outcomes in children. Our results reveal complex patterns that vary across agro-ecological zones. More research is needed to assess seasonal variations in these factors, effects of gender roles on intra-household ..
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