The Impact of Armed Conflicts on Child Health in the Central African Republic

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Tchakounte, Dimitri
Loic, Molambo Sambi
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African Economic Research Consortium
For several decades, the Central African Republic (CAR) has been the scene of a succession of coups that have been accompanied by armed conflicts in many prefectures of the country. Children often suffer high rates of acute malnutrition during these armed conflicts. This study aims to analyse the impact of the 2003-2008 and 2012-2014 armed conflicts on child health using data from the 2010 and 2018 Multiple Cluster Surveys of the Central African Republic. Our identification strategy relies on exploiting both temporal and spatial variation across birth and prefectures cohorts to measure child exposure to the conflicts. From the difference-in-difference estimation, we find that height-for-age Z-scores and weight-for-age Z-scores are, respectively, 0.518 and 0.242 standard deviations lower for children born during the war. We also examine the impact of the total duration of exposure to conflicts, and the results indicate that an additional month of exposure significantly reduces both height-for-age and weight-for-age z-scores. We further perform robustness analysis, and the findings suggest that the effects are robust to considering the level of internally displaced persons across prefectures and the level of household wealth. As economic losses appear to be the most relevant mechanisms paired with the decline in child nutritional health in the CAR, interventions must promote agricultural empowerment of internally displaced persons, and initiate cash transfers and employment programmes aimed at rebuilding household assets in the absence of agricultural income. Moreover, rehabilitating basic social services, especially health infrastructure, can help alleviate the negative effects of conflict on child health through access to adequate health care during illness.
Armed conflict; child health; height-for-age; weight-for-age; Central African Republic.