Conflict in Somalia: impact on child undernutrition

Kinyoki DK, Moloney GM, Uthman OA, Kandala NB, Odundo EO, Noor AM, Berkley JA
BMJ Glob Health. 2017;2

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INTRODUCTION: In Somalia, protracted conflict and drought have caused population displacement and livelihood destruction. There is also widespread childhood undernutrition. We aimed to determine the independent effects of conflict on wasting and stunting among children aged 6-59 months nationwide in Somalia. METHODS: Data were from household surveys during 2007-2010, including 73 778 children in 1066 clusters, the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project database and remote sensing. We used Bayesian hierarchical spatial-temporal regression to examine the effects of conflict on wasting and stunting. Models included individual, household and environmental covariates and recent (<3 months) or longer term (3-12 months) conflict events. RESULTS: 15 355 (21%) and 22 739 (31%) observations were from wasted and stunted children, respectively. The conflict was associated with undernutrition independently of the individual, household and environmental factors, and its inclusion improved model performance. Recent conflict was associated with wasting (OR 1.37, 95% credible interval (CrI): (1.33, 1.42) and attributable fraction (AF) 7.6%)) and stunting (OR 1.21, 95% CrI (1.15, 1.28), AF 6.9%). Longer term conflict had greater effects on wasting (OR 1.76, 95% CrI (1.71, 1.81), AF 6.0%) and stunting (OR 1.88, 95% CrI = (1.83, 1.94), AF 7.4%). After controlling for conflict, the harmful effect of internal displacement and protective effects of rainfall and vegetation cover on undernutrition were enhanced. CONCLUSION: Conflict and internal displacement have large effects on undernutrition in ways not fully captured by simply measuring individual, household and environmental factors or drought.