Nepal NMIS Cycle 4: Early Childhood Feeding, Nutrition and Development, 1996

Childhood malnutrition is a serious problem in Nepal, as in other countries in South Asia. National surveys of nutritional status of Nepali children over the previous 20 years had shown little evidence of improvement. Over half of children under three years old were stunted (low height for age, chronic malnutrition). This cycle of the NMIS (fieldwork September/October 1996) revisited the same sites as the previous cycles and aimed to examine the factors associated with an increased risk of malnutrition, with a view to developing strategies to tackle the problem. The cycle included 17,000 households, with 8,000 children aged 36 months or below and 15,000 children 5 years and below.

The findings confirmed previous studies with 53% of children stunted and 16% of children wasted (acute malnutrition). The high rate of wasting in the terai particularly was apparently related to flooding in the recent monsoon period. Children who were stunted reached motor development milestones later than children who were not stunted The risk of childhood malnutrition was increased with less frequent feeding, with later addition of breast milk complements, with recent diarrhoea, with not feeding colostrum, with illiteracy of the mother, and in communities where women were frequently beaten.