Factors influencing the nutritional status of women of reproductive age in Erute internally displaced persons' camp, Lira District
Agetta, Grace L. Komakech
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Introduction: More than 1.5 million Ugandans were displaced and lived in camps from 1996 to 2005. The camp conditions were associated with poor sanitary facilities, disease and malnutrition among women and children (WFP 2004). Objectives: to establish the underlying factors influencing the nutritional status of women of reproductive age in Erute Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp. Methods: A cross sectional survey involving non-pregnant and nonlactating women of reproductive age (15 - 49) was carried out in Erute IDP camp-Lira District, Northern Uganda (May-July 2005). Data was collected by structured, food frequency questionnaires (FFQ) and included socio-demographics, food security, dietary intake and nutrition knowledge. The nutritional status of women was assessed by anthropometric methods (weight, height, and mid upper arm circumference (MUAC) measurements). Results: A total of 224 women, most (60%) of whom were young (<25years) single or widowed (64%) had low levels of education (46.3%) and were of low socioeconomic status, were investigated. A significant proportion (48.7%) were underweight with a mean BMI of less than 18.5% while 3.5% were overweight and 1.0 % was obese. The mean MUAC among study women was 25.5 6.3) cm. Younger women were more likely to show low BMI and or MUAC compared to older women (p< 0.05). There was indication of inadequate dietary intake due to insufficient food available at the household level and consumption of calories from low cost staple foods. The main foods consumed by study women were; maize flour, beans, and vegetables. Corn-soy blend and vegetable oil were given by WFP on a 3 monthly basis. Conclusions: The nutrition status of IDW in Erute IDP camp was poor. Low socio-economic status, inadequate information/knowledge, poverty and low educational levels greatly undermined the women’s welfare and were key contributors to poor nutritional status. Recommendations: To improve the nutrition status of IDW in Erute IDP camp, interventions should target raising their socioeconomic status through providing information, education and alleviating poverty levels among IDW.