7.2 Impact of Climate Shocks and Conflict Events on Acute Malnutrition in Children under Five

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 12:00 AM
153B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Molly E Brown, Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD; and D. Backer and K. Grace

Wasting in children under five, as compared to stunting, is relatively understudied. Despite progress in strengthening early warning systems for food insecurity, current approaches to detect declines in nutritional status still tend to be ‘late’ warning systems, reliant upon indicators such as the prevalence of moderate and severe acute malnutrition, which are only able to detect a nutrition crisis after it has already begun. Therefore, a shift to preventative actions will require a change in the way we conceptualize nutrition security, forecast nutrition-related vulnerabilities at a relatively local level, identify the causal factors driving nutritional deterioration, and design nutrition-sensitive services that mitigate the impact of shocks on households and communities. Our objective is to incorporate short-term temporal shocks from weather and conflict into understanding the risk of acute childhood malnutrition. Here we conducted a review of the literature, examining over 700 papers, and ultimately focusing on 77 papers with primary data and modeling results that set out factors associated with wasting in the literature that could be used as ‘early’ indicators of risk. We found that few papers look at the impact of both climate and conflict shocks on children, with even fewer studying the impact of these shocks over multiple geographies. Climate shocks, measured with vegetation and rainfall data, and food price shocks are among the most robust risk factors for wasting. Conflict is a robust predictor of stunting, but few studies examined the impact of conflict on wasting. We found that although a large array of factors have been evaluated as important for wasting, many of the findings have yet to be validated in multiple studies. Improved understanding of the factors that ameliorate the impact of shocks on acute malnutrition could enable an effective response to nutritional risk.
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