Poverty, household food availability and nutritional well -being of children in north west Syria
In Syria, 3.5 million are classified as rural poor. Rural women and children, suffer the most from poverty and its physical and social deprivations. A study compared differences in child growth and nutrition in three rural livelihood groups: a ‘barley-livestock’ group, an ‘olive/fruit tree’ group and an irrigation group of Aleppo province, Syria. Informal interviews, food card sorts exercise, key informant socio-economic evaluation, household food frequency and portion size questionnaires, health questionnaires, and anthropometry were conducted. Two hundred and four households, 541 rural and 199 urban middle-income children (2–10 years) were interviewed and measured. Independent sample t-tests, one-way analysis of variance, GLM univariate analysis of variance and linear regression analysis were used. Stunting prevalence was highest in the barley-livestock (23%) and lowest in the irrigation group (12.5%). Girls in the barley-livestock group displayed the highest rates of stunting (28.3%), followed by boys (22%) and girls (21.08%) in the olive/fruit tree group. The prevalence of underweight children was highest in the barley-livestock and olive/fruit tree groups (14.29% and 13.25% respectively). Wasting did not occur in the irrigation group, while rates were very low in both the barley-livestock (0.96%) and olive/fruit tree (2.17%) groups. Percentages of poor households were high in the barley-livestock and olive/fruit tree groups (60 and 59%). They also had lower milk product availability, a major source of protein in the diet. Total food energy was high in all groups while dietary quality was poor in the barley-livestock and the olive/fruit tree groups. The diets were high in food energy from sugar, in cereal protein and low in lysine (mg/g protein) calcium, and vitamin A and vitamin B-12 in the case of the barley-livestock group. Dietary, demographic and economic variables significantly explained some variation in the growth indices. The barley-livestock group and the olive/fruit tree group children are most vulnerable to poor nutrition. Poverty and poor nutrition existed in pockets through Aleppo province irrespective of agricultural stability zone. Nutritional status is a good indicator of agricultural livelihoods and can be used to devise effective development interventions for Aleppo province.
Children & youth
0573: Public health