Rainfall and child weight in Uganda


We combine data from the 2006 and 2011 Uganda Demographic and Health Surveys (UDHS) with rainfall data and two waves of the Ugandan National Household Survey (UNHS) to study patterns in child weight, as measured by weight-for-height z scores (WHZ), among 3492 rural children below age 5 in Uganda. We focus on rainfall as a nutrition driver along agriculture and disease pathways. We find a positive and significant association between crop yield and WHZ, but the magnitude of this association diminishes as we control for covariates, especially the use of productivity-enhancing agricultural inputs. We find diarrheal disease to have a negative and significant association with WHZ, and modifying effects of social and environmental factors along the disease pathway. Contemporaneous rainfall is associated with a lower likelihood of diarrheal disease in areas with excess rainfall and a higher likelihood of diarrheal disease in rainfall deficit areas. Our findings reinforce calls for targeted and situation-sensitive policies to promote child nutrition.


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