Forest Cover and Human Health Outcomes in Malawi

Kiersten Johnson, Macro International Inc.
Anila Jacob, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
Molly Brown, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Healthy forests provide human communities with ecosystem services including food, clean water and fuel, the loss of which is seen as a significant barrier to achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To investigate the impacts of deforestation on human health, 2010 Malawi DHS data linked to NASA’s satellite remote-sensing data on forest cover was analyzed. Logistic regression was used to analyze associations between forest cover and childrens’ dietary diversity, consumption of vitamin A-rich foods, diarrheal disease, and stunting, controlling for age, water source, sanitation, mother’s education, wealth, NDVI, and migration. Children in areas with a net decadal loss of forest cover had a 19% decrease in dietary diversity and a 29% decrease in consumption of vitamin A-rich foods. Children living in communities with greater forest cover demonstrated a 34% decrease in the risk of experiencing diarrhea. The results suggest a protective effect of forest cover on select nutrition and health outcomes.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 49: Population and Environment