Journal Article

The association between agricultural conditions and multiple dimensions of undernutrition in children 6–23 months of age in Burkina Faso

Background
The quality and quantity of food available to children affect their nutritional status, with implications for long-term health and development. In Burkina Faso, households rely on rainfed agriculture, but climate change is making crop production unreliable. We explore spatial patterns of growing season quality on dimensions of nutritional status and complementary feeding practices in children 6-23 months.

Methods
The 2017 Performance Monitoring and Accountability 2020 (PMA2020) nutritional survey was spatially integrated with a contemporaneous remotely sensed drought indicator, the Water Requirement Satisfaction Index (WRSI), which captures local anomalous growing season conditions. Multilevel mixed-effects logistic regression models were estimated to explore the effects of WRSI on child mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) score (indicating malnutrition), and two components of complementary feeding practices, adjusting for demographic and household characteristics.

Results
The dataset included 1,721 children. Higher WRSI values (better agricultural conditions and crop performance) were associated with 3% lower odds of malnutrition (Odds Ratio (OR)=0.971; 95% confidence interval (CI): [0.942, 1.00]) and 7% higher odds of a child attaining minimum dietary diversity (OR=1.07; 95% CI: [1.01, 1.14]). Undernourished mothers were significantly (p < 0.001) more likely to have an undernourished child. Minimum dietary diversity met for the child was protective against malnutrition; the association between WRSI and malnutrition persisted after adjustment.

Conclusions
WRSI was associated with the child's dietary diversity and malnutrition, suggesting the importance of seasonally and spatially varying local agricultural production and an important relationship between growing season conditions and child nutritional status, with dietary diversity providing a potential mechanism for intervention.