Child health outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa: A comparison of changes in climate and socio-economic factors

Frank Davenport, Kathryn Grace, Chris Funk, Shraddhanand Shukla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


We compare changes in low birth weight and child malnutrition in 13 African countries under projected climate change versus socio-economic development scenarios. Climate scenarios are created by linking surface temperature gradients with declines in seasonal rainfall sea along with warming values of 1 °C and 2 °C. Socio-economic scenarios are developed by assigning regionally specific changes in access to household electricity and mother's education. Using these scenarios, in combination with established models of children's health, we investigate and compare the changes in predicted health outcomes. We find that the negative effects of warming and drying on child stunting could be mitigated by positive development trends associated with increasing mothers’ educational status and household access to electricity. We find less potential for these trends to mitigate how warming and drying trends impact birth weights. In short, under warming and drying, the risk of more malnourished children is greater than the risk of more children with low birth weights, but increases in child malnutrition could be averted in regions that increase access to educational resources and basic infrastructure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-87
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The paper was supported by the USAID Famine Early Warning System and U.S.G.S. grant G14AC00042


  • Climate change
  • Food security
  • Infant health
  • Shared socioeconomic pathways


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