An assessment of the effects of the 2002 food crisis on children's health in Malawi
In 2002 Malawi experienced a serious shortage of cereals due to adverse climatic conditions. The World Food Programme assumed that about 2.1 to 3.2 million people were threatened of starvation at that time. However, not much research has been undertaken to investigate the actual consequences of this crisis. In particular, little is known about how the crisis affected the health status of children. Obviously, quantifying the health impact of such a crisis is a serious task given the lack of data and the more general problem of relating outcomes to specific shocks and policies. In this paper a difference-in-difference estimator is used to quantify the impact of the food crisis on the health status of children. The findings suggest that at least in the short run, there was neither a significant impact on child mortality nor on malnutrition. This would suggest that the shock might have been less severe than initially assumed and that the various policy interventions undertaken at the time have been effective or at least sufficient to counteract the immediate effects of the crisis.
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