Assessment of the relationship between household food insecurity and nutrition status of children aged 6-59 months in Bibibidi Refugee Camp, Yumbe District
Atim, Cathy Alal
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Introduction: Household food insecurity has been identified as a possible underlying determinant of malnutrition. Poor dietary quality or diversity is a significant contributing factor to malnutrition, specifically, micro-nutrient deficiencies. Therefore, food insecurity may be a core variable for understanding the nutritional status of low-income and displaced populations. Among children, household food insecurity is associated with being underweight, and with wasting and stunting. Previous literature demonstrates high levels of food insecurity and a high prevalence of malnutrition at 7.6% in Bidibidi Refugee Camp. However, no studies have been previously carried out to determine if household food insecurity could be the cause of the low nutritional status of children aged 6-59 months at the camp. Objective of the study: To assess the relationship between household food insecurity and nutrition status of children aged between 6 and 59 months in Bibibidi Refugee Camp, Yumbe district. Methodology: A Descriptive (Cross-Sectional) study design involving both Qualitative and Quantitative data collection methods was conducted during the study. The study population comprised of children aged 6-59 months, their mothers or caretakers, camp leaders and key health personnel at Bidibidi refugee camp. The sample size consisted of 200 participants. Data was collected using pre-tested structured questionnaires. Household food security was measured using the Household Food Insecurity Access Scale (HFIAS). Anthropometric measurements on height, weight and mid upper arm circumference were carried out to assess nutrition status of the children. Anthropometric indices were then calculated using WHO Anthro 3.1.0 and interpreted according to WHO 2006 cut off points. Data was entered using Epi.Data 3.2 and exported to MS Excel, Epi-Info and Ena SMART for analysis. Results: The overall prevalence of wasting was at 3.4%, stunting at 9.6% and underweight at 4.8%. It was noted that children from households that were food insecure had a lower nutrition status as compared to children from moderately food secure households. Conclusion: There is a relationship between the level of food insecurity and children nutrition status in Bidibidi Refugee Camp. Household food insecurity and the prevalence rates of stunting, underweight, and wasting, among children 6 to 59 months of age, were high in Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. The findings of this study show food insecurity is intertwined with malnutrition. Though the prevalence of malnutrition in the area is similar to the regional and national levels, the findings of this study indicate that malnutrition is still a major public health problem among children in the settlement. Programs and interventions to improve household food insecurity along with other nutrition interventions may enable greater synergy and sustainable impacts in addressing childhood under-nutrition as compared to nutrition specific interventions.