World Health & Population

World Health & Population 9(2) April 2007 : 64-82.doi:10.12927/whp.2007.18943

Geographic Targeting of Risk Zones for Childhood Stunting and Related Health Outcomes in Burkina Faso

Florence M. Margai

Abstract

Several studies seeking alternative intervention strategies for chronic food insecurity in food-poor nations now advocate the simultaneous evaluation of multiple causative agents to identify and monitor at-risk populations. This study attempted to do so using a three-tiered conceptual framework that expressed childhood nutritional health outcomes as a function of basic, underlying and immediate causes that are manifested at the regional/community level, the household level and the personal level. Focusing on stunting (short stature) as a direct cumulative indicator of food insecurity, the geographic patterns of this nutritional health outcome were mapped using empirical data from Burkina Faso. The spatial analysis revealed several isolated pockets of at-risk populations. Further analysis using logistic regression methods revealed significant disparities in childhood vulnerability based on factors such as urbanization, geographic accessibility, poverty, maternal education and occupation, environmental health, and age, gender and dietary intake of the child. Contrary to research expectations, there were no observed relationships between childhood nutritional health outcomes and the biophysical characteristics of the communities. The odds ratios of stunting in the marginal areas with harsh environmental conditions were comparable to those observed in the wetter, crop-intensive regions. Overall, the findings underscore the need for broadening the scope of research beyond physical environmental conditions to include more socio-economic and anthropogenic factors that result in long-term effects of food insecurity, particularly among young children.

 

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