Bayesian geostatistical modelling of stunting in Rwanda: risk factors and spatially explicit residual stunting burden

V. Uwiringiyimana, F. Osei, S. Amer*, A. Veldkamp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
82 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Stunting remains a significant public health issue in Rwanda and its prevalence exhibits considerable geographical variation. We apply Bayesian geostatistical modelling to study the spatial pattern of stunting in children less than five years considering anthropometric, socioeconomic and demographic risk factors in Rwanda. In addition, we predict the spatial residuals effects to quantify the burden of stunting not accounted for by our geostatistical model. Methods: We used the data from the 2015 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey. We fitted two spatial logistic models with similar structures, only differentiated by the inclusion or exclusion of spatially structured random effects. Results: The risk factors of stunting identified in the geostatistical model were being male (OR = 1.32, 95% CI: 1.16, 1.47), lower birthweight (kg) (OR = 0.96, 95% CI: 0.95, 0.97), non-exclusive breastfeeding (OR = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.45), occurrence of diarrhoea in the last two weeks (OR = 1.18, 95% CI: 1.02, 1.37), a lower proportion of mothers with overweight (BMI ≥ 25) (OR = 0.82, 95% CI: 0.71, 0.95), a higher proportion of mothers with no or only primary education (OR = 1.14, 95% CI: 0.99, 1.36). Also, a higher probability of living in a house with poor flooring material (OR = 1.22, 95% CI: 1.06, 1.41), reliance on a non-improved water source (OR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.27), and a low wealth index were identified as risk factors of stunting. Mapping of the spatial residuals effects showed that, in particular, the Northern and Western regions, followed by the Southern region of Rwanda, still exhibit a higher risk of stunting even after accounting for all the covariates in the spatial model. Conclusions: Further studies are needed to identify the still unknown spatially explicit factors associated with higher risk of stunting. Finally, given the spatial heterogeneity of stunting, interventions to reduce stunting should be geographically targeted.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2022


  • Bayesian modelling
  • Rwanda
  • Spatial pattern
  • Spatial residuals
  • Stunting


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