The 2015 earthquake in Nepal caused massive damages and triggered relief activities to minimize human suffering. The post-earthquake nutrition and food security situation in the hardest hit areas remains uncertain.
Two national cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 2014 and 2016 among households (HH) with pre-school aged children or newly married women. Of the 21 village development committees (VDCs) included in this sample, 7 fell within “earthquake-affected” areas. This paper presents data from 982 HH, 1015 women, and 883 children from 2014 and 1056 HH, 1083 women, and 998 children from 2016 living in these areas, with longitudinal overlap of about 55%. Prevalence estimates and 95% confidence intervals were calculated, and logistic regression was used to calculate p-values, both using robust estimates of standard errors to account for clustering.
From 2014 to 2016, child wasting (weight-for-height z score <-2) fell from 4.5% (95% CI 3.3%– 6.1%) to 2.1% (1.4%– 3.1%) and food insecurity (assessed using the household food insecurity access scale) dropped from 17.6% (11.7%– 25.6%) to 12.4% (6.9%– 21.2%). Child stunting prevalence remained similar at both time-points. Improvements were also evident in dietary diversity and breastfeeding indicators.
Nutrition and food security conditions remained comparable or improved one year after the earthquake despite evidence of structural and other damage. Livelihood resilience to shocks and/or effective nutrition, food or health interventions may have helped buffer the impact on nutrition, although this hypothesis requires further exploration.