Food Security

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 1157–1171 | Cite as

Factors influencing stunting among children in rural Tanzania: an agro-climatic zone perspective

  • Hadijah A. Mbwana
  • Joyce Kinabo
  • Christine Lambert
  • Hans K. Biesalski
Original Paper


This paper analyzed stunting in children in Tanzania and its linkages to agro-climatic conditions and related factors, unraveling the complex interactions of determinants of under-nutrition in two contrasting regions of Tanzania. We used logistic regression models to establish relationships between stunting and multiple variables belonging to different domains. The prevalence of stunting and severe stunting in children was 41% and 21% respectively, while 11% of women had a Body Mass Index of below 18.5. Results also indicate that 17% of children and 16% of women were anaemic. Regression analysis showed that major determinants of child stunting in the semi-arid Dodoma region are cultivated land size, gender and age of the child, duration of breastfeeding, household size, use of iodized salt and the distance to a water source. In sub-humid Morogoro, cultivated land size, a child’s age, duration of breastfeeding, literacy status of the mother and Body Mass Index of the mother predict stunting. We discuss how these factors influence the nutrition status of children in each agro-climatic region. The pooled model provided strong evidence to link agro-climatic zone characteristics to stunting among children. It is recommended that nutrition interventions should be specific to agro-climatic environments. Implementing agro-climatic sensitive interventional actions may help to reduce undernutrition and food insecurity in specific areas.


Nutritional status Agro-climate Rural Stunting Kitchen gardening Anaemia 



The work in this paper was funded by the Innovating Strategies to Safeguard Food Security using Technology and Knowledge Transfer: A People-Centred Approach Project (‘Trans-SEC’). The Trans-SEC project is financially supported by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and co-financed by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


  1. Ali, S. S., Karim, N., Billoo, A. G., & Haider, S. S. (2005). Association of literacy of mothers with malnutrition among children under three years of age in rural area of district Malir, Karachi. Journal of the Pakistan Medical Association, 55(12), 550–553.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Amjath-Babu, T. S., Krupnik, T. J. & Sreejith Aravindakshan, M. A. (2016). Climate change and indicators of probable shifts in the consumption portfolios of dryland farmers in sub-Saharan Africa : implications for policy, (June). doi: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2016.03.030
  3. Assey, V. D., Peterson, S., Kimboka, S., Ngemera, D., Mgoba, C., Ruhiye, D. M., et al. (2009). Tanzania national survey on iodine deficiency: impact after twelve years of salt iodation. BMC Public Health, 9, 319.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  4. Awoyemi, T. T., Odozi, J. C., & Ogunniyi, A. A. (2012). Environmental and socioeconomic correlates of child malnutrition in Iseyin area of Oyo State, Nigeria, 2(4), 92–98.Google Scholar
  5. Black, R. E., Allen, L. H., Bhutta, Z. A., Caulfield, L. E., Onis, M. De, Ezzati, M., et al. (2008). Series maternal and child undernutrition: global and regional exposures and health consequences. The Lancet, 5–22. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(07)61690-0.
  6. Campbell-lendrum, D., & Woodruff, R. (2006). Comparative risk assessment of the burden of disease from climate change. Environmental Health Perspectives, 114(12), 1935–1941.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Confalonieri, U., Menne, B., Akhtar, R., Ebi, K. L., Hauengue, M., Kovats, R. S., et al. (2007). Human health. In A. M. Susanna Curto (Ed.), Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Contribution of working group II to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (pp. 391–431). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Das, S., & Sahoo, H. (2011). An investigation into factors affecting child undernutrition in Madhya Pradesh. Anthropologist, 13(3), 227–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dereje, N. (2014). Determinants of severe acute malnutrition among under five children in Shashogo Woreda, Southern Ethiopia: A community based matched case control study. 4(5), 1–8.Google Scholar
  10. FAO. (2008). Climate change and food security. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Retrieved from
  11. FAO. (2010). Combating Micronutrients: Food based Approaches. In: B. Thompson & L. Amoroso (Eds.), (pp. 432). Rome, CAB International and FAO. Retrieved from:
  12. Fikadu, T., Assegid, S., & Dube, L. (2014). Factors associated with stunting among children of age 24 to 59 months in Meskan district, Gurage zone, South Ethiopia: a case-control study. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 800.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  13. Fischer, G. G., Shah, M., N. Tubiello, F., van Velhuizen, H., & Tubiello, F. N. (2005). Socio-economic and climate change impacts on agriculture: an integrated assessment, 1990--2080. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 360(1463), 2067–2083.
  14. Goudet, S. M., Faiz, S., Bogin, B. A., & Griffiths, P. L. (2011). Pregnant women’s and community health workers’ perceptions of root causes of malnutrition among infants and young children in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh. American Journal of Public Health, 101(7), 1225–1233.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  15. Grantham-Mcgregor, S., & Ani, C. (2001). Iron-deficiency anemia : reexamining the nature and magnitude of the public health problem a review of studies on the effect of iron deficiency on cognitive. The Journal of Nutrition, 131, 649–668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Haileslassie, K., Mulugeta, A., & Girma, M. (2013). Feeding practices, nutritional status and associated factors of lactating women in Samre Woreda, south eastern zone of Tigray, Ethiopia. Nutrition Journal, 12, 28.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  17. Joshi, H., Gupta, R., Joshi, M. C., & Mahajan, V. (2011). Determinants of nutritional status of school children - a cross sectional study in the western region of Nepal. Jjirm, 2(1), 10–15.Google Scholar
  18. Kapil, U. (2007). Health consequences of iodine deficiency. Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal, 7(3), 267–272.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  19. Kavosi, E., Hassanzadeh Rostami, Z., Kavosi, Z., Nasihatkon, A., & Moghadami, M. (2014). Prevalence and determinants of under-nutrition among children under six: A cross-sectional survey in Fars Province, Iran. Int J Health Policy Manag, 3(2), 71–76.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  20. Kinabo, J., Mamiro, P., Nyaruhucha, C., Kaarhus, R., Temu, A. E., Materu, M., & Tatala, S. (2011). Quality of human capital for agricultural production in rural areas of Morogoro and Iringa regions, Tanzania, 6(29), 6296–6302. doi: 10.5897/AJAR11.1232.
  21. Leon-Cava, N., Lutter, C., Ross, J., & Martin, L. (2002). Quantifying the benefit of breastfeeding: a summary of the evidence. Retrieved from
  22. Linnemayr, S., Alderman, H., & Ka, A. (2008). Determinants of malnutrition in Senegal: individual, household, community variables, and their interaction. Economics and Human Biology, 6(2), 252–263.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Liwenga, E. (2003). Food Insecurity and Coping Strategies in Semiarid Areas The Case of Mvumi in Central Tanzania. Academic dissertation for the exam of doctor of philosophy at Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden. Retrieved from
  24. Lobell, D. B., Schlenker, W., & Costa-Roberts, J. (2011). Climate trends and global crop production since 1980. New York. Retrieved from
  25. Ludi, E. (2009). Climate change, water and food security - ODI background notes. Westminster Bridge. Retrieved from
  26. Maberly, G. F., Haxton, D. P., & van der Haar, F. (2003). Iodine deficiency: consequences and progress toward elimination. Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 24(4 Supplement), S91–S98.Google Scholar
  27. Mahgoub, S. E. O., Nnyepi, M., & Bandeke, T. (2006). Factors affecting prevalence of Malnutrittion among children under three years of age in Botswana. African Journal of Food Agriculture Nutrition and Development, 6(1), 1–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mamiro, P. S., Kolsteren, P., Roberfroid, D., Tatala, S., Opsomer, A. S., & Van Camp, J. H. (2005a). Feeding practices and factors contributing to wasting, stunting, and iron-deficiency anaemia among 3-23-month old children in Kilosa district, rural Tanzania. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 23(3), 222–230.Google Scholar
  29. Mamiro, P. S., Kolsteren, P., Roberfroid, D., Tatala, S., Opsomer, A. S., & Van Camp, J. H. (2005b). Feeding practices and factors contributing to wasting, stunting, and iron-deficiency anaemia among 3-23-month old children in Kilosa district, rural Tanzania. Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition, 23(3), 222–230.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Masibo, P. K. (2013). Trends and determinants of malnutrition among children age 0–59 months in Kenya (KDHS 1993, 1998, 2003 and 2008–09) [WP89]. Calverton, Maryland. Retrieved from
  31. Mekonnen, A., Jones, N., & Tefera, B. (2005). Tackling child malnutrition in Ethiopia :do the sustainable development poverty reduction programme’s underlying policy assumptions reflect local realities? Addis Ababa. Retrieved from
  32. Mnenwa, B. R., & Maliti, E. (2010). A comparative analysis of poverty incidence in farming systems of Tanzania. Special Paper 10/4. Research On Poverty Alleviation. Retrieved from:
  33. Müller, O., & Krawinkel, M. (2005). Malnutrition and health in developing countries. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association Journal = Journal de l’Association Medicale Canadienne, 173(3), 279–286.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  34. Mutabazi, K. D. (2013). Identifying, defining and typologizing FVC and upgrading strategies. A Trans-SEC document, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Morogoro.Google Scholar
  35. National Bureau of Statistics and ICF Macro. (2010). Tanzania demographic and health survey 2009–10 preliminary report. National Bureau of Statistics. Dar es Salaam.Google Scholar
  36. National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) [Tanzania] and ICF Macro. (2011). Micronutrients: Results of the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey, NBS and ICF Macro. Dar es Salaam.Google Scholar
  37. Ozdemir, H., Akman, I., Coskun, S., Demirel, U., Turan, S., Bereket, A., & Ozek, E. (2013). Maternal thyroid dysfunction and neonatal thyroid problems. International Journal of Endocrinology. doi: 10.1155/2013/987843.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Porter, J. R., & Semenov, M. A. (2005). Crop responses to climatic variation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences, 360(1463), 2021–2035.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  39. Rinck, E. (2008). Soaring food prices and nutrition in urban areas - Sack gardens in KENYA. Retrieved from
  40. Ronner, E., & Giller, K. E. (2013). Background information on agronomy, farming systems and ongoing projects on grain legumes in Tanzania pp 1–33. Retrieved from
  41. Saaka, M. (2014). Relationship between mothers’ nutritional knowledge in childcare practices and the growth of children living in impoverished rural communities. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 32(2), 237–248.Google Scholar
  42. Saxena, N., Nayar, D., & Kapil, U. (1997). Prevalence of underweight, stunting and wasting. Indian Pediatrics, 34(7), 627–631.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  43. Semba, R. D., De Pee, S., Hess, S. Y., Sun, K., Sari, M., & Bloem, M. W. (2008). Child malnutrition and mortality among families not utilizing adequately iodized salt in Indonesia. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87(2), 438–444.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  44. Simondon, K. B., Simondon, F., Costes, R., Delaunay, V., & Diallo, A. (2001). Breast-feeding is associated with improved growth in length, but not weight, in rural senegalese toddlers. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 73(5), 959–967.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. Suhrcke, M., Stuckler, D., Suk, J. E., Desai, M., Senek, M., McKee, M., & Semenza, J. C. (2011). The impact of economic crises on communicable disease transmission and control: a systematic review of the evidence. PLoS ONE, 6(6).
  46. UNICEF. (1998). The state of the world’s children: malnutrition causes, consequences and Solutions. Oxford University Press for UNICEF, New York.
  47. Unicef. (2012). The State of the World’s Children. Children in an urban world. Retrieved from
  48. UNICEF, World Health Organization, & The World Bank. (2012). UNICEF-WHO- World Bank. Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates: Levels & trends in child malnutrition. Africa, 35. Retrieved from
  49. Upadhyay, S., Kumar, A. R., Raghuvanshi, R. S., & Singh, B. B. (2011). Nutritional status and knowledge of hill women on anemia : effect of various socio-demographic factors. Journal of Human Ecology, 33(1), 29–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. WHO. (2011). Haemoglobin concentrations for the diagnosis of anaemia and assessment of severity. Geneva: World Health Organization Retrieved from Scholar
  51. WHO Multicentre Growth Reference Study Group. (2006). WHO child growth standards: Length/height-for-age, weight-for-age, weight-for-length, weight-for-height and body mass index-for-age: methods and development (Vol. 312). Geneva: World Health Organization Retrieved from: Scholar
  52. World Vision. (2011). Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: Retrieved from
  53. Zimmermann, M. B. (2008). Iodine requirements and the risks and benefits of correcting iodine deficiency in populations. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, 22, 81–92.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hadijah A. Mbwana
    • 1
  • Joyce Kinabo
    • 1
  • Christine Lambert
    • 2
  • Hans K. Biesalski
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Food Science and TechnologySokoine University of AgricultureMorogoroTanzania
  2. 2.Institute of Biological Chemistry and NutritionUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

Personalised recommendations