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Investigate the relationship between hydro-climatic monitoring and health indicators in a context of chronic drought

IWRA 2020 Online Conference - Addressing Groundwater Resilience under Climate Change
THEME 1. Groundwater Natural Resouces Assessment Under Climate Change
Author(s): Alan Ricardo Patlan Hernandez, Tom Heath, Ali Mohamed Nassur, Jean Lapègue, Simon Carrière

Dr. Alan Ricardo Patlan Hernandez
Action Contre la Faim, France

Mr. Tom Heath
Action Contre la Faim

Dr. Ali Mohamed Nassur
Action Contre la Faim

Dr. Jean Lapègue
Action Contre la Faim

Dr. Simon Carrière
Independent Consultant

Keyword(s): Climate Change, Groundwater, Water Scarcity/Security, Nutrition, Environmental Health


(a) Purpose or objectives and status of study or research hypothesis
This study assesses the relationship of hydro-climatic monitoring data with nutritional and morbidity indicators in the District of Betioky-Atsimo in Madagascar to improve the Early Warning System (EWS) and the effectiveness of humanitarian assistance. We hypothesize that the climate variability leads to lagged negative effects on nutrition and health indicators in Southern Madagascar through decreases in groundwater resources.

(b) Key issue(s) or problem(s) addressed
Child acute malnutrition rates in Madagascar are among the six highest worldwide. Madagascar southwestern region is particularly vulnerable to water resources variability and scarcity, and has a history of food insecurity and widespread vector-borne diseases. Population in this area live under a quasi-permanent water stress since groundwater (only available water source) exploitation is difficult due to the region’s particular hydrogeological environment. Since the beginning of hydro-climatic monitoring in 2014, several dry years were observed inducing lack of water for populations, known to negatively affect hygiene practices and nutrition and health outcomes.

(c) Methodology or approach used
Action Contre la Faim (ACF) conducted a retrospective observational study based on preliminary data (January 2014 to March 2019). Nutritional data of children (aged 6-59 months) were extracted from the health information system databases. The hydro-climatic observatory include an automatic weather station and piezometric sensors. Leaf Area Index (LAI) is obtained from remote sensing on Copernicus. Associations between hydro-climatic and nutritional data were assessed with Spearman’s correlation test and multiple regression models. Crosscorrelation functions were used to test the delayed impact hypothesis and identify the maximum correlation lags.

(d) Results and conclusions derived from the project
Data visualization of the variables allowed identifying potential lagged and seasonal impacts of reduced groundwater levels. Preliminary results shown 2, 3 and 4 months lagged correlations of monthly Ambulatory Nutrition Rehabilitation Centers (CRENAS) admissions with the piezometry, the LAI and the monthly total rainfall, respectively. Limitations include potential effect modifiers; nevertheless, a recent complementary data collection will allow a more robust analysis. Preliminary results are consistent with previous studies assessing the associations of environmental indicators with health and nutritional status. Results demonstrate the potential applicability of a hydro-climatic indicators combination (including pluviometry and piezometry) in predicting variations of acute malnutrition and other diseases occurrence, which could improve preparedness within local programs enabling earlier and more targeted responses to water, health and nutrition crises.

(e) Implications of the project relevant to selected conference theme, theory and/or practice
ACF aims to improve forecasting describing the lag between low rainfall/recharge and its impacts on nutrition and health. These findings will help ACF and its partners develop a reliable EWS providing robust alerts and improving hydro-climatic and health data collection.

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