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Study shows that over six million Ethiopian children fall victims of stunting

Photo : Compact2025 (file)
Photo : Compact2025 (file)

By Staff Reporter

ADDIS ABABA – (BORKENA) – A study shows that more than six million children fall victim to stunting, which is caused by lack of nutritious food, sources said.

The “Fifth Ethiopian Nutrition Leaders” Network disclosed in its November 24, 2023 annual conference that man-made and natural disasters like drought, conflict, inflation, locust swarms, floods, etc. have become challenges to achieve the nutrition plans, the Weekly Amharic Reporter said.  

Senior Program Manager of Ethiopian Nutrition Leaders Network, Sisay Sinamo (Dr.) said in a speech he made  referring to a study conducted in 2020 that despite the improvement of food and nutritional conditions over the past 20 years, more than six million children are suffering from stunting, and about one million children are receiving medical support due to acute nutritional problems.

Highlighting that the current state of the food system is in a very serious condition, Dr. Sisay said that a lot of work needs to be done to improve it. He stated that a food and nutrition policy has been prepared at the national level. In order to implement the policy, a food and nutrition strategy, as well as the Seqota Declaration are being implemented, but the accomplishment process is facing many challenges,” Sisay said.

In particular, Sisay clarified that the drought that is occurring in connection with climate change is exposing some areas to serious problems. The food systems in these same areas were adjusted previously.  

Sisay said that food price hikes at the international and national levels, the conflicts  and the wars erupted in various areas over the past years have obstructed the food and nutrition plans set by the government.

“Still, the money allocated by both the government and donor organisations for food and nutrition is showing a decline,” said Sisay adding that there “is a gap of up to 50 percent” of the resources needed for food and nutrition.

Sisay (Dr.) stated that only about 30 percent of the resources requested for the beneficiaries in 2023 have been found. “If this is the case, the food aid will be delivered to the areas, which are considered top priority,” he said.

Director General’s representative of International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for Ethiopia, Namukolo Covic, said that the food and nutrition system in Ethiopia is under threat due to various reasons. According to the research paper of Namukolo, more than five million people in Amhara and Tigray regions are facing malnutrition and 2.1 million have been displaced from their villages due to conflicts.

She stated that the drought in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Tigray, Somali regions, including Dire Dawa has deprived them of crops capable of feeding nearly two million people.

Namukolo further expressed that in recent weeks more than one thousand people have been displaced due to floods.

Some of the reasons presented in the study as challenges that aggravate the problem and choke efforts being made to bring about a lasting solution include limited government financial support, lack of peace and stability, lack of adequate shelter for people who are displaced from their villages due to conflict, which are said to make a mess of the food system. 

In general, although four billion dollars of financial support is needed to fix the food system in Ethiopia, only 1.2 billion dollars or 30 percent was obtained by 2023, according to the research presented. This reportedly happened due to the limited available resources.

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