By Disha Shetty / NewsDeeply

Officials are increasingly looking to climate data to predict droughts, famines and heat waves and to help plan for – and prevent – the rising rates of moderate and severe malnutrition that have been shown to follow.

One-year-old Chaittali sits quietly next to her mother at a clinic in Mokhada, a rural village five hours from India’s financial capital, Mumbai. This is the second time in the past four months her mother has brought Chaittali to a nutritional rehabilitation center at the government-run hospital to be treated for severe malnutrition.

As in much of rural India, agriculture is the main revenue source for Mokhada. When rainfall is good, there is surplus food to eat and sell. In the years that rainfall is poor, agriculture suffers and so does the nutrition of those relying on the produce for livelihood. This leads to a surge in cases of children with moderate (MAM) and severe (SAM) acute malnutrition appearing at the clinic.

But climate affects children like Chaittali in other ways, too. While her mother works in the fields, the toddler spends time sleeping or playing in the dirt in the open. Summer days are not easy for the young ones, often left to entertain themselves in sweltering heat. It was this exposure to the sun that led to the deterioration in Chaittali’s condition the second time.

Kristie Ebi, Professor of Global Health and Director of the UW Center for Health and the Global Environment is quoted in this story.


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