For every child, nutrition!
All children, no matter where they live or their circumstances, have the right to survive and thrive. See how UNICEF’s nutrition programme helps keep millions of children alive and healthy.
For every child, nutrition!
An adequate well-balanced diet is the bedrock of child survival, health, and development. Well-nourished children are more likely to be healthy, productive, and ready to learn. Undernutrition, by the same logic, is devastating. It blunts the intellect, saps productivity, and perpetuates poverty. To ensure that vulnerable children, pregnant women, and mothers have access to nutrition services and best feeding practices in both rural and urban settings, particularly during various emergency circumstances, UNICEF is working in partnership with the Government of Ethiopia.
Child malnutrition has also gotten worse, and it has become increasingly challenging to address hunger and malnutrition in Ethiopia as a result of COVID-19, ongoing cyclical severe droughts, and internal displacement due to conflict. Declined household income is the secondary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which makes it more difficult for households to afford nutritious diets and worsens food security. Many people struggle to fulfill nutritional needs, which increases their risk of malnutrition and its complications, including micronutrient deficiencies. Adolescent girls and pregnant women are more at risk due to their high nutritional needs, which makes deficiencies more severe in them.
Undernutrition accounts for 45 percent of child mortality under the age of five, stunting still affects more than 5.4 million Ethiopian children under the age of five (39%) and one in ten children under the age of five (about two million) and 45 percent of child deaths under age five are associated with undernutrition. UNICEF works in partnership with the Government of Ethiopia in order to guarantee that disadvantaged children, pregnant women, and mothers have access to nutrition services and best feeding practices in both rural and urban settings, particularly during various emergencies.
The work that UNICEF does on nutrition systems will help it fulfill its global mandate to promote children's right to adequate nutrition. The scaling up of preventive nutrition treatments for young children, adolescents, and pregnant women, including vitamin A, albendazole, iron, and folate supplements, has been accomplished in Ethiopia with the support of UNICEF.
Nutrition in numbers
- 28 per cent of child deaths are associated with under-nutrition.
- 38.6 per cent of children under five years are stunted.
- 21 per cent of children under five years are underweight.
- 7 per cent of children under five years suffer from wasting.
- 22 per cent of women aged 15–49 years are undernourished.
- 58 per cent of children are exclusively breastfed during the first 6 months.
- 14 per cent of children aged 6–23 months are fed four or more food groups.
- 45 per cent of children aged 6–23 are fed at least three times a day.
The Government of Ethiopia recognizes that addressing malnutrition is essential to achieving sustainable development. As a result, bold actions were taken in health and other nutrition-specific sectors to put in place policies, programmes, and large-scale interventions to significantly reduce all forms of malnutrition among the most vulnerable groups, young children and pregnant and lactating women. Nevertheless, undernutrition among children and women remains an urgent concern, requiring multi-sectoral efforts.
UNICEF’s nutrition programme focuses on these areas:
- upstream nutrition policy support and multi-sectoral engagement by supporting the coordination and complementarity of line ministries including those in charge of education, social protection scheme, and hygiene to prevent undernutrition.
- improving nutrition knowledge and caring behaviors;
- strengthening systems for nutrition service delivery;
- strengthening the capacities of nutrition partners to respond to nutrition in humanitarian situations.
- strengthening the nutrition accountability of the health system and its responsiveness and preparedness to onset as well as chronic shocks
- developing and implementing new innovative partnerships and strategies to promote nutrition-sensitive and preventive interventions and improve diet diversity and practices and;
UNICEF supports the Government’s national nutrition programme, particularly the community-based nutrition programme which is increasing knowledge on essential nutrition actions and broader infant and young child feeding practices through the Health Extension Programme.
Natural events such as droughts and floods, and conflict usually trigger food insecurity in Ethiopia, where over 85 per cent of the population is dependent on rain-fed subsistence agriculture and livestock husbandry, resulting in an increased number of children with acute malnutrition. To mitigate and manage nutrition shocks, UNICEF works with the Government’s disaster risk management and food security sector, regional authorities, and other partners to deliver coordinated preparedness and response, and to refine emergency preparedness and response plans.