Poverty and Child Malnutrition Focus of PhD in Statistics
Measuring poverty in households and the malnutrition of children under five years using household survey data in order to identify their determinants, was the subject of PhD Statistics research by Dr Fautin Habyarimana.
Habyarimana was supervised by Professor Temesgen Zewotir and Dr Shaun Ramroop of UKZN’s School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science.
Habyarimana of Rwanda said he had been attracted to UKZN by the quality of its graduates and was impressed with the stimulating environment on the Pietermaritzburg campus and the availability of materials needed for his research.
His research assessed and developed statistical models used within the ambit of poverty and malnutrition in Rwanda. ‘It is a good piece of work which evaluates sophisticated statistical approaches and is novel in its measuring of poverty and malnutrition,’ said Ramroop, who explained that the research represented the sum total of classical and modern statistical theory underpinning joint and multivariate modeling of real life processes.
Factors identified by Habyarimana as affecting the poverty of households included education levels, age and gender of the household head; the place of residence of the household (rural or urban); the province it was situated in as well as the household’s size.
The study further revealed a positive association between poverty and malnutrition and suggested that the eradication of poverty would lower malnutrition levels.
Four articles have been published in internationally accredited journals based on Habyarimana’s research and a further three are under review.
‘Faustin's hallmark quality was that he had great industriousness combined with statistical prowess,’ said Ramroop. ‘This is what made the statistical community and other researchers sit up and take note of the research!’
Ramroop was particularly complimentary about Habyarimana’s fortitude. ‘Towards the completion of the thesis, Faustin's father passed away and he had to return to Rwanda for the funeral,’ he explained. ‘He possessed extraordinary emotional maturity to persevere unto completion in the face of that tragedy!’
Habyarimana’s PhD was funded by the government of Rwanda and University of Rwanda, for which assistance he was grateful. He also thanked his father, mother, wife and children. His future plans are to pursue post-doctoral research and follow an academic career.