Sedentism and Malnutrition Among Nomadic Fulani Children in South Western Nigeria|
Ekpo, U.F.; Omotayo, A.M. & Dipeolu, M.A.
Studies on the health, nutrition and growth of nomadic Fulani children are rare. In recent times, the nomadic Fulani of Northern Nigeria are gradually migrating and settling in the southern part of the county. The effect of these changes from nomadic to sedentary living is not known, particularly the effects on nutrition and development of their children. Therefore, a cross-sectional study on the nutrition and growth of Fulani children, aged six months to 15 years, living in Kwara, Ogun and Oyo States of South western Nigeria was conducted between March 2003 and December 2004. This population of Fulani are fully settled nomads whose economy and culture are now centred on cattle and farming. There is a dearth of information on the prevalence of malnutrition in this group. The heights and weights of 164 girls and 167 boys were measured, to determine their anthropometric indices, height-for-age (HA), weight-for-height (WH), and weight-for-age (WA) Z-scores. The prevalence of stunting (HAZ < -2), wasting (WHZ < -2) and underweight (WAZ < -2) was 38.7%, 13.6%, and 38.7%, respectively when compared to the reference National Centre for Health Statistics and World Health Organization (NCHS/WHO) standard used for defining stunting, wasting and underweight. Boys were more malnourished than the girls, but this was not statistically significant (stunting: χ2=0.36; df=1; P=0.54); (underweight: χ2=1.10; df=1; P=0.29); and (wasting: χ2=0.00; df=1; P=0.98). Using World Health Organization Malnutrition Classification systems, 38.7% of the children were found to be malnourished. It was concluded that malnutrition among the pastoral Fulani children could be linked to changes in food habits, which may be as a result of transition from a nomadic to sedentary lifestyle. It is suggested that food supplements, nutritional and health education programme should be introduce in pastoral Fulani settlements as a first step to improving the nutritional and growth of settled pastoral Fulani children.
Internal migration, malnutrition, Fulani, Nigeria.