Malnutrition in Ethiopia

Despite being the oldest, independent country in Africa and in the world, Ethiopia still suffers from low education rates, and extreme poverty and malnutrition.

The country experienced political turmoil for decades and around 1/3 of its current population is living below the poverty line. It also faces the negative effects of climate change that continue to threaten agriculture—the basis of its economy. Almost half of children between 5 and 14 are working just to survive.

With that said, there is a great possibility that the number of Ethiopians who live below the poverty line will continue to rise. Here is some information about two of the major problems that the country faces now.

Poverty—the Cause of Malnutrition

Lack of rainfall is one of the major causes behind the rural poverty that leads to malnutrition. Drought in the country has become more severe and frequent in the past decades, and there are signs that this will worsen in the next few years. The effects of drought are more severe in vulnerable households located in high-density regions of the highlands, as well as pastoral parts of the lowlands. There is also a lack of sufficient economic and social infrastructure, including education and health facilities, safe water, and veterinary services.

Other major causes of poverty in rural areas include an inefficient agricultural marketing system, underdeveloped production technologies and communication and transport networks, environmental degradation, and limited access to support services.

The severity of poverty is often linked to the size, productivity, and quality of the land, as well as production technologies and the climate. The most prone to experiencing extreme poverty are those households that have women as the head of the family. For most women in Ethiopia, poverty can result in an increased number of infant deaths and undernourished families.  

Facts about Malnutrition

Malnutrition affects around 2.7 million Ethiopians who are chronically dealing with severe food insecurity, and that number increases in times of drought.

In late 2015 / early 2016, another human crisis began unfolding in Ethiopia–the worst drought in 30 years.

The worst part of malnutrition in the country is its drastic effects on children. Around 44% of children in Ethiopia who are still below 5 deal with stunting, or severe malnutrition. Since up to 81% of the reported cases of malnutrition remain untreated, around 28% of children below 5 also die from the condition annually.

Malnutrition also affects productivity and the quality of education in the country. Reports show that there is an 8% decrease in the number of people in the workforce because of the increasing child mortality rate. The problem with malnutrition in Ethiopia is that it not only puts the lives of millions at risk; it also prevents the country from coping with the poverty cycle, keeping the people destitute. Projects like ours help people in Ethiopia gain food security and reduce malnutrition.

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