Kimberly Harding; Grace S. Marquis; Esi K. Colecraft; Anna Lartey; Owuraku Sakyi-Dawson
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Global Livestock CRSP, University of California- Davis
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Abstract: Food availability in rural communities is often dependent on season. Young children who are at risk of poor growth when food is scarce during the lean season may be able to improve their nutritional status when food becomes more abundant during the harvest season. This study examined seasonal differences in the diets of 190 children two to five years of age who were living in rural northern Ghana. Interviewer-administered questionnaires were used to collect information on children’s diets at two time points: during the lean season before households began to harvest their staple crops of millet, maize and rice, and five months later after almost all crops had been harvested. Although children’s diets tended to improve with the post-harvest season, the difference was smaller than expected, and most likely had been blunted by unexpected severe flooding that occurred between the two data collection periods. These findings demonstrate the potential influence of natural disasters in augmenting the seasonal risk of poor growth for young children and can be used to inform policy change to protect health and well-being of children in Ghana.