2 January 2018

Ethiopia: Is Stunting Eradication Uphill Battle?

For many years, developing countries have been suffering from stunting and child malnutrition. For instance, Ethiopia loses around 16.5 percent of its GDP each year to the long-term effects of child malnutrition. Hence,what needs to be done to eradicate or alarmingly reduce stunting in this country for good?

"Apart from ensuring food security, providing adequate nutrition particularly to children and mothers will avert consequences of stunting. As good nutrition makes human-body and brain to grow healthily, public awareness raising towards best nutrition practices is crucial using a given household monthly income, " says Dr Kebede Worku ,Health State Minister.

He further says an economic growth that does not eradicate stunting will not bring sustainable development and prosperity at all.

For his part, the Ministry of Health Nutrition Case Team Coordinator Birara Melese says much is needed to be done in-terms of ensuring nutrition security at national level ,but having introduced the National Nutrition Program in 2015, the nation has managed to reduce the rate of stunted children at a household level, he adds.

"The ongoing multi-sectoral approach involving ministries of Health, Water, Irrigation and Electricity, Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as Environment and Climate Change has brought glimpse of hope in eradicating stunting."

For example, in the efforts to improve children 's food intake status at the household level, the Ministry of Health has been carrying out supervision work and providing vitamin to children below the age of two.

While under the WASH program, health extension workers have been offering basic training on sanitation and hygiene in their respective neighborhood and agricultural extension workers have been also sharing best practices of growing variety crops, vegetables, and fruits to each household on the top of sheep and goats husbandry as well as poultry and bee farming at small scale level.

According to Disaster Risk Management Authority, despite the growth of agricultural productivity, the nation has not yet achieved food security due to natural calamity. Therefore, it is crystal clear that realizing food and nutrition security will not be an easy task .

However, the Nutrition International Expert Enawgaw Sisay says the unwavering commitments of the government plus its development partners unreserved support towards ensuring nutrition security will for sure overcome the aforesaid challenges.

"Ensuring nutrition security has become one of the top priorities at all level of state offices. Capacity building activities have been given in each institution in order to effectively utilize the available resources," Enawgaw notes.

For his part, Birrara says though the northern part of Ethiopia is drought prone and has been ploughed for centuries, experts have been sent to Israel to take lesson in cultivating small scale drip irrigation farm and farmers are doing their level best to replicate the practice in their nearby areas to avail variety of foods at the household level.

By the same token, the school health and nutrition strategy has also be made to provide to deliver nutrition services in schools, while promoting health and nutrition seeking behavior among students and adolescents.

"Obtaining clean water is the right of human being because it is an integral part in the efforts of ensuring food and nutrition security. Building water retaining capacity at neighborhood level is vital. On the other hand, as a part of attaining better nutrition, productive safety net program in urban center has been implemented. Enhancing household income through job creation and cultivating the culture of reducing wastage of crops during harvesting season have been taken as a mechanism in supporting the goal," says Kebede.

He further says to mitigate drought vulnerability, efforts are being undertaken to conserve, water and soil and encouraging results have been achieved in states such as Tigray, Amhara, Oromia and Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples.

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