Effects of drought on child health in Marsabit District, Northern Kenya

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This study uses five years of panel data (2009–2013) for Northern Kenya's Marsabit district to analyze the levels and extent of malnutrition among children aged five and under in that area. We measure drought based on the standardized normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and assess its effect on child health using mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC). The results show that approximately 20 percent of the children in the study area are malnourished and a one standard deviation increase in NDVI z-score decreases the probability of child malnourishment by 12–16 percent. These findings suggest that remote sensing data can be usefully applied to develop and evaluate new interventions to reduce drought effects on child malnutrition, including better coping strategies and improved targeting of food aid.

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