Conflict and climate factors and the risk of child acute malnutrition among children aged 24–59 months: a comparative analysis of Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda

Abstract

Acute malnutrition affects a sizeable number of young children around the world, with serious repercussions for mortality and morbidity. Among the top priorities in addressing this problem are to anticipate which children tend to be susceptible and where and when crises of high prevalence rates would be likely to arise. In this article, we highlight the potential role of conflict and climate conditions as risk factors for acute malnutrition, while also assessing other vulnerabilities at the individual- and household-levels. Existing research reflects these features selectively, whereas we incorporate all the features into the same study. The empirical analysis relies on integration of health, conflict, and environmental data at multiple scales of observation to focuses on how local conflict and climate factors relate to an individual child’s health. The centerpiece of the analysis is data from the Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in several different cross-sectional waves covering 2003–2016 in Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda. The results obtained from multi-level statistical models indicate that in Kenya and Nigeria, conflict is associated with lower weight-for-height scores among children, even after accounting for individual-level and climate factors. In Nigeria and Kenya, conflict lagged 1–3 months and occurring within the growing season tends to reduce WHZ scores. In Uganda, however, weight-for-height scores are primarily associated with individual-level and household-level conditions and demonstrate little association with conflict or climate factors. The findings are valuable to guide humanitarian policymakers and practitioners in effective and efficient targeting of attention, interventions, and resources that lessen burdens of acute malnutrition in countries prone to conflict and climate shocks

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