Rainfall shocks are not necessarily a sensitive early indicator of changes in wasting prevalence

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Abstract

Evidence on the impact of weather shocks on child nutrition focuses on linear growth retardation (stunting) and thus, associates the effect of a short-term measure (weather events) on a cumulative measure (attained height). Relatively little is known on how weather shocks predict increases in wasting in a population. This study explores whether deviation in rainfall in Ethiopia, a drought prone country, is a sensitive indicator of future increases in wasting. Around 12% of children 0-23 months were wasted, but we found no consistent association between the rainfall shock variables and child weight-for-height Z-scores. The results indicate that monitoring rainfall does not provide a practical early warning to use for scaling up financing and management of preventative measures without additional information to increase precision.

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