Child growth, shocks, and food aid in rural Ethiopia

  • Yamano T
  • Alderman H
  • Christiaensen L
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Abstract

Children that grow slowly experience poorer psychomotor development and tend to have delayed school enrollment and lower scores on cognitive tests. Rural households in developing countries often are unable to protect their consumption against temporary income shocks, such as droughts. Such income shocks have been shown to have negative effects on child growth. A common intervention to alleviate these effects is international food aid, but there has been limited research on the effect of food aid on child growth. Over the past decades, Ethiopia has experienced several droughts, but has also received massive amounts of food aid. Controlling for program placement, analysis of nationally representative household surveys from 1995-96 found that children aged 6-24 months experienced about 0.9 centimeter less growth over a 6-month period in communities where half the crop area was damaged, compared to those without crop damage. Food aid had a substantial effect on growth in this age group. Moreover, the total amount of food aid appeared to be sufficient to protect children against crop damage, an encouraging sign that food aid can act as an effective insurance mechanism, although its cost effectiveness needs further investigation. (Contains 34 references) (Author/SV)

Author-supplied keywords

  • Child growth
  • Child malnutrition
  • Ethiopia
  • Food aid
  • Shocks

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