A Study To Determine The Impact Of Permaculture On Dietary Diversity And Nutritional Status In Children Below 5 Years In Malawi.
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Orubide, D. (2015) A Study To Determine The Impact Of Permaculture On Dietary Diversity And Nutritional Status In Children Below 5 Years In Malawi., no. 73.
Introduction: Every year, 3.1 million child deaths are associated with poor nutritional status, the majority occurring in the most socio-economically deprived areas (Black et al. 2013). Malawi is a Sub-Saharan African country where over 60% of people live below the international poverty line and 1 in 2 children are chronically malnourished (UNICEF 2013). Interventions in the agricultural sector have the potential to reduce the burden of malnutrition by increasing food production, diversity and consequently, dietary intake and nutritional status (Heywood 2013). Permaculture is an alternative agricultural design which mimics natural ecosystems to create a diverse productive system and has been reported to produce thrice as many crop varieties as the commonly practiced maize monocropping in Malawi (Conrad 2014). This study investigates the impact of permaculture farming on dietary diversity and nutritional status in children below the age of 5 years living in Malawi. Methods: A sample of 10 children was taken from permaculture-practicing families in Central Malawi and matched with 10 controls of similar ages. They were compared based on diversity of dietary intake and nutritional status. Dietary diversity was scored based on number of food groups consumed during the previous 24-hours, while nutritional status was defined by comparing anthropometric measurements against international growth standards (Kennedy et al. 2010; WHO 2006). Results: Mean dietary diversity scores were significantly higher in the intervention group than in controls (p=.003) and prevalence of consumption of 7 or more food groups was 40% higher in the intervention group. Anthropometric measurements revealed a 20% higher prevalence of underweight and wasting and a 30% higher prevalence of severe stunting among controls than intervention group (p>.05). Conclusion: Permaculture has a positive impact on dietary diversity in Malawian children; however the evidence for impact on nutritional status was not strong hence conclusions could not be drawn. Keywords: Permaculture, Malnutrition, Dietary Diversity, Malawi