Child wasting in emergency pockets: A meta-analysis of small-scale surveys from Ethiopia

Chiara Altare, Tefera Darge Delbiso, Debarati Guha-Sapir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Child undernutrition is a major public health concern in Ethiopia (stunting national prevalence: 44%; wasting: 10%), despite the overall improvement in child health status during the last decade. Hundreds of small-scale surveys are conducted in Ethiopia’s emergency pockets under ENCU’s supervision. We reviewed the evidence from small-scale surveys conducted between 2008 and 2013 with two objectives: to provide a summary estimate of wasting prevalence from emergency pockets and to examine reasons for variation in prevalence estimates. We created a dataset by combining data from the Complex Emergency Database, the Famine Early Warning System Network and the Armed Conflict Location Event Data. We conducted a meta-analysis of small-scale surveys using a random effects model with known within-study heterogeneity. The influence of survey covariates on estimated prevalence was investigated with meta-regression techniques. We included 158 surveys in the analysis. A high degree of heterogeneity among surveys was observed. The overall estimate of wasting prevalence was 10.6% (95% CI 9.8–11.4), with differences among regions and between residents and refugees. Meta-regression results showed that vaccination coverage, child mortality, diarrhea prevalence and food insecurity are significantly associated with wasting prevalence. Child care and displacement status were not. Aggregated analysis of small-scale surveys provides insights into the prevalence of wasting and factors explaining its variation. It can also guide survey planning towards areas with limited data availability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number178
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 28 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethiopia
  • Meta-analysis
  • Small-scale surveys
  • Wasting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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