Linkages Between Agricultural Growth and Improved Child Nutrition in Mali
October 1, 2000 - Author: James Tefft, Christopher Penders, Valerie Kelly, John M. Staatz, Mbaye Yade, and Victoria Wise
IDWP 79. James Tefft, Christopher Penders, Valerie Kelly, John M. Staatz, Mbaye Yade, and Victoria Wise. 2000. 50 pp.Linkages Between Agricultural Growth and Improved Child Nutrition in Mali
Despite Mali’s strong economic and agricultural growth over the past decade, levels of child
malnutrition remain alarmingly high. A 1995-96 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS II)
found 23% of the children (under 3) surveyed to suffer from wasting and 30% to suffer from
stunting. These statistics are considerably higher than those from an earlier DHS study in 1987,
which found 11% of children surveyed to suffer wasting and 24% to suffer from stunting.
Between 1985, real gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an average annual rate of 3.5%, with
the agricultural sector averaging 3.9% growth over this period. The rate of economic growth has
been particularly robust following the 1994 devaluation of the Franc de la Communauté
Financière d’Afrique (CFA Franc), and especially for the cotton and rice sectors, which grew at
annual rates of 12% and 10%, respectively.
This paper presents the results of the first phase of a project aimed at analyzing the links between
agricultural growth in Mali and child nutritional status. The objective of this project is to
strengthen these links through applied research and extension. The first phase of the project was
designed to generate hypotheses concerning the relationship and review existing data to test
these hypotheses, generate new hypotheses and draw policy implications. The second phase of
this project will carry out in-depth research to address the critical questions left unanswered in
phase I and initiate actions designed to improve these links.
The first phase research and analysis involved researchers from the DSSAN, of the Malian
Ministry of Health, INSAH, MSU, DNSI, and the IER in Mali. The first step was to review the
theoretical and empirical literature on the major determinants of child health and nutrition and on
the linkages between agricultural growth and child nutrition. Second, various hypotheses
concerning these linkages were formalized. Finally, these hypotheses were tested with existing
data, and the researchers reviewed other studies in Mali which dealt with theses issues, both
directly and indirectly. The results from the first phase research were presented to the ad hoc
committee on nutrition in Mali at a workshop on February 10 and 11, 2000. This report
incorporates the input from the members of the committee.