Small Grants Programme: Misfortunes never come singly: structural change, multiple shocks and child malnutrition in rural Senegal


The proverb ‘misfortunes never come singly’ suggests that adverse events are connected, and that their impact is made worse because they happen together. Is it always the case?

This working paper and policy brief consider the two most pronounced shocks Senegalese subsistence farmers struggle with – namely, increasing purchase prices and droughts. The report and brief assess the impact of these shocks on child health with a multi-shock approach to account for concomitance of various adverse events. The analysis employs a unique dataset of children living in poor, rural households in eight regions of Senegal in 2009 and 2011, and accounts for structural changes occurring between the survey periods.

While the multi-shock interaction analysis reveals that droughts and increased prices negatively impact children’s health, growing up in poor shock-prone environments does not necessarily mean children cannot escape poverty. The health of children living through droughts and increased prices in 2011 in Senegal was unaffected. These results were driven by the increase in rural household incomes as a result of high cash crop prices.


Image: Children in Moghere, Senegal, by Rajeshree Sisodia/PRISE