Trends in burden and risk factors associated with childhood stunting in Rwanda from 2000 to 2015: policy and program implications

Jan 20, 2020; SpringerLink.


Rwanda has made substantial economic progress over the past two decades. However, evidence suggests that malnutrition among children remains high in spite of this progress. This study aims to examine trends and potential risk factors associated with childhood stunting from 2000 to 2015 in Rwanda.

Data for this study come from the 2000 to 2015 Rwanda’s Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), a cross-sectional, population-based survey that is conducted every 5 years. Following prior work, we define stunting based on age and weight as reported in the DHS. We assess the overall prevalence of stunting among children under the age of 5 in Rwanda and then conduct bivariate analyses across a range of policy-relevant demographic, socioeconomic, and health variables. We then incorporate key variables in a multivariable analysis to identify those factors that are independently associated with stunting.

The prevalence of stunting among children under the age of 5 in Rwanda declined from 2000 (47.4%) to 2015 (38.3%), though rates were relatively stagnant between 2000 and 2010. Factors associated with higher rates of stunting included living in the lowest wealth quintile, having a mother with limited education, having a mother that smoked, being of the male sex, and being of low-birth weight.

Though overall stunting rates have improved nationally, these gains have been uneven. Furthering ongoing national policies to address these disparities while also working to reduce the overall risk of malnutrition will be necessary for Rwanda to reach its overall economic and health equity goals.

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