Africa: What’s Driving Ethiopia’s Remarkable Improvements in Nutritional Health?
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Since 2000, Ethiopia has been doing something right in early childhood nutrition. Under-five child stunting rates have dropped from 58 percent to 40 percent, child wasting has dropped below 10 percent, and the prevalence of underweight in young children has declined from 41 to 25 percent.
What lies behind these impressive gains? According to experts from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Transform Nutrition, possible drivers include improvements in infant and young child feeding practices, improved agricultural performance, advances in empowering women, stronger social safety nets, and better roads and infrastructure.
“The reasons are still unclear, but the Ethiopia of 2000 is a stark contrast to the Ethiopia of today,” said Derek Headey, a senior research fellow at IFPRI. “Much of the improvement stems from larger birth sizes and hence better maternal nutrition, but we’re still trying to figure out exactly what’s driving these changes.”
Headey and other IFPRI researchers, government officials, and top international and national experts in nutrition, food policy, agriculture, and social protection will discuss the possible reasons for Ethiopia’s major gains in child nutrition today at a one-day conference at the Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa.
On the agenda are discussions about the impact of cash transfer programs on nutritional indicators, how women’s empowerment in agriculture can affect nutritional outcomes, production diversity, and children’s diets, and how remoteness impacts welfare and nutrition, among other topics.