Study objective-Comparison of children's nutritional status in refugee popu
lations with that of local host populations, one year after outbreak refuge
e crisis in the North Kivu region of Democratic Republic of Congo.
Design-Cross sectional surveys.
Setting-Temporary and other settlements, in the town of Goma and surroundin
g rural areas.
Subjects-Anthropometric indicators of nutritional status and presence or ab
sence of oedema were measured among 5121 children aged 6 to 59 months recru
ited by cluster sampling with probability proportional to size, between Jun
e and August 1995.
Results-Children in all locations demonstrated a typical pattern of growth
deficit relative to international reference. Prevalence of acute malnutriti
on (wt/ht < -2 Z score) was higher among children in the rural non-refugee
populations (3.8 and 5.8%) than among those in the urban non-refugee popula
tions (1.4%) or in the refugee population living in temporary settlements (
1.7%). Presence of oedema was scarcely noticed in camps (0.4%) while it was
a common observation at least in the most remote rural areas (10.1%). As c
ompared with baseline data collected in 1989, there is evidence that nutrit
ional status was worsening in rural non-refugee populations.
Conclusions-Children living in the main town or in the refugee camps benefi
ted the most from nutritional relief while those in the rural non-refugee a
reas were ignored. This is a worrying case of inequity in nutritional relie