Infrastructure mitigates the sensitivity of child growth to local agriculture and rainfall in Nepal and Uganda

Incorporating agriculture into nutrition policy requires an understanding of how agricultural performance, rainfall, and the economic and physical environments in which children reside relate to linear growth and weight gain. This paper combines anthropometric data from children below the age of 5 y in Nepal and Uganda with rainfall data and other information to measure these connections. Anthropometric outcomes are positively correlated with rainfall prior to birth, during the first year, and during agricultural growing seasons preceding child measurement. High rainfall is found to be deleterious to child growth in some settings. Evidence points to the need for agricultural adaptation to low rainfall, as well as broadly based economic development, including continued investments in health and transport infrastructure, to help improve child nutrition.This paper investigates linear growth and weight gain among 11,946 children below the age of 5 y in Nepal and Uganda, testing the hypothesis that child growth is sensitive to precipitation during key periods in a child's early life. The paper also tests the importance of the economic and physical environments in which children reside. Outcomes are not completely explained by agricultural performance or the observed characteristics of children or their households. Associations between height-for-age z-score (HAZ) and weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) and rainfall are generally positive, but patterns are heterogeneous. At the mean, an increase of 1 SD in agricultural season rainfall is associated with a 0.05- to 0.25-point higher z-score, which translates into increases of roughly 4–13% for HAZ and 1–7% for WHZ. Nutrition sensitivity to rainfall is greater in Nepal, where rainfall is lower on average and wider ranging, than in Uganda. Health and transport infrastructure help to buffer children from the deleterious nutritional effects of precipitation shortfalls, underscoring the role of broadly based economic development in promoting child nutrition.


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  • Accession Number: 01669368
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: May 2 2018 5:16PM