After the Floods: Differential Impacts of Rainfall Anomalies on Child Health in India

Anna Dimitrova
Raya Muttarak, Vienna Institute of Demography

Childhood undernutrition is among the most challenging issues faced by low- and middle-income countries. In India, where over one-third of children are undernourished, this can hinder the achievement of sustainable development. The changing climate may aggravate malnutrition by undermining food security and contribute to the spread of infectious diseases. The empirical evidence however remains unsettled, with too much rainfall increasing malnutrition in some contexts, but reducing the prevalence in some others. Based on the Demographic and Health Survey for India 2015-16 (n=228,747), this study examines the effect of rainfall anomalies on the prevalence of stunting among children under five in India. The findings suggest that exposure to floods, particularly during infancy and in-utero, increases the likelihood of stunting and severe stunting by 12% and 14%, respectively. Girls, children from disadvantaged castes, and those living with poor and less educated mothers are at highest risk of stunting due to rainfall anomalies.

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 Presented in Session 36. Early-Life Environmental and Economic Exposures: Impact on Demographic and Health Outcomes in India and Sub-Saharan Africa