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Poverty, household food availability and nutritional well -being of children in north west Syria

Shibani A Ghosh, University of Massachusetts Amherst


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.

Subject Area

Nutrition|Public health

Recommended Citation

Ghosh, Shibani A, "Poverty, household food availability and nutritional well -being of children in north west Syria" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3152699.