German Development Bank grants 5 million Euros to UNICEF for the South Sudanese refugee response in Ethiopia

To benefit an estimated 250,000 people including both refugees and vulnerable host communities

ADDIS ABABA, 15 January 2015: The German Development Bank (KfW), today announced a 5 million Euros grant (close to 6 million US$) to UNICEF Ethiopia to improve access to quality basic services for South Sudanese refugees and host communities in the Gambella Region of Ethiopia.

The generous contribution provided by KfW, on behalf of the Government of Germany will be used to provide high impact humanitarian interventions in the areas of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), health, nutrition, education and child protection to an estimated 250,000 people including both refugees and vulnerable host communities.

Since the conflict started in South Sudan a year ago, more than 190,900 refugees have crossed the border into the Gambella Region in Ethiopia. The majority of the new arrivals are women comprising of 80 per cent of the adult population and 70 per cent of children from the total population.

“With this contribution from the German Government, some of the most vulnerable groups of South Sudanese refugees – namely children and their mothers – as well as the host communities in eastern Ethiopia will be supported during these very difficult times,” said Klaus Pfeiffer, Director of the German Development Bank (KfW) Office to Ethiopia and African Union.

UNICEF works with the regional government, Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs, UNHCR, other UN agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations to ensure that humanitarian assistance is provided in neutral, impartial and timely manner; addressing the inequalities and disparities and contributing to building resilience of the affected communities.

“We are grateful to KfW for its support for these life-saving interventions, which will focus on improving access to quality basic services for South Sudan refugees and host communities in Gambella Region of Ethiopia,” said UNICEF Representative a.i, Anupama Rao Singh. “We believe that the funding will significantly improve the lives of women and children as well as strengthen the service delivery structure within the host communities,” she added.

More specifically, the following results are expected to be achieved through this funding:

  • An estimated 110,000 refugees and vulnerable host communities will have access to safe drinking water, 40,000 people will have access to appropriate sanitation facilities (toilets and showers) and 150,000 people will receive hygiene promotion messages and materials;
  • An estimated 100,000 will have access to an improved health care system through capacity building and infrastructure development, 37,000 children will be vaccinated against measles and 15,000 households will receive long-lasting insecticidal nets;
  • 55,000 under five children and 10,000 pregnant and lactating women will have access to nutrition services;
  • An estimated 45,000 host communities and refugee children will access quality education through the establishment of temporary learning facilities and new schools;
  • 36,400 of the most vulnerable children will receive psychosocial support through the setting up of Child Friendly Spaces;
  • An estimated 2,000 unaccompanied and separated children will be reunited with their families.

For further information, please contact:

Imruwa Demissie, KfW Ethiopia, Tel.: +251 115180241; email: kfw.addis@kfw.de

Wossen Mulatu, UNICEF Ethiopia, Tel.: +251 115184028 ; email: wmulatu@unicef.org

Ethiopia hosted the 3rd Africa’s Nutrition Security Partnership Annual Review Meeting

By Selamawit Negash

Ten month old Hanan Mohammed Ibrahim has her mid upper arm circumference measured
Ten month old Hanan Mohammed Ibrahim has her mid upper arm circumference measured ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2012/Getachew

Malnutrition in Africa is at present one of the leading causes of mortality among children under five. Data indicate that malnutrition including intra uterine growth restriction, stunting, wasting and micronutrient deficiencies contribute to up to 45per cent of all child deaths in Africa.  In sub-Saharan Africa, 40 per cent of children under 5 years of age are stunted. Food and nutrition security in Africa, in particular in Sub Saharan Africa has hardly improved over the last decade, despite many initiatives at global and regional level.

There are evidences that all global advocacy initiatives need country examples – champions that can show in practice, and not just in theory, how to achieve results when resources are scarce and the challenges are great. The European Union (EU) and UNICEF partner to improve nutrition security in Africa at regional level and in a total of four target countries Burkina Faso, Mali, Uganda and Ethiopia. The Africa Nutrition Security Partnership (ANSP) programme that is being implemented in 2012-2015 is a multi-donor initiative of in total €21 million with the support from the EU amounting to €15 million. The programme aims at increasing the commitment to nutrition in terms of policies, budgets, and effective programming and implementation. The programme fosters high-level policy engagement to nutrition at continental, regional and national levels and contributes to scaling up of high-impact nutrition interventions in the four target countries by integrating nutrition goals into broader health, development and agricultural efforts.

Ethiopia hosted the 3rd Africa’s Nutrition Security Partnership Annual Review Meeting from 14 to 15 October 2014. Participants from the government of Ethiopia EU, UNICEF as well as Cornell University from continental, regional and country level organisations discuss accomplishments, bottlenecks to implementations and sharing experiences and best practices among ANSP beneficiary countries.

Group Photo: African Nutrition Security Partnership (ANSP) 3rd Annual Review Meeting
Group Photo: African Nutrition Security Partnership (ANSP) 3rd Annual Review Meeting ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ayene

Good progresses is made towards the achievements of the ANSP objectives in all of the four ANSP result areas of policy, capacity, information system and programme scale up. It is clear that during the meeting, that ANSP is helping to improve the political environment for nutrition with strong continental, regional and national leadership, multisectoral coordination and joint accountability scale up community level nutrition interventions.

2015 will be the last year for ANSP support and partners must work to integrate the efforts being made with the local structures and systems to ensure sustainability. It will be very important to work on synergising continental level activities which aim to create enabling policy environment with community level programmes to scale up key high impact multisectoral nutrition interventions.

The meeting emphasised, the support for nutrition in Africa should continue within the framework of the Post 2015 Nutrition Action Plan.

Girl’s Empowerment: the key to Ethiopia’s development

By: Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia

 Julius Court, Acting Head of Office, DFID Ethiopia

As we rapidly approach the deadline of 2015 for reporting our progress against the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is already clear that Ethiopia will have much success to report and an inspiring story to tell. Indeed most of the MDG targets will be not only met, but surpassed by a good distance, well ahead of time.

The wedding day
Girls and women everywhere have the right to live free from violence and discrimination. Help end child, early and forced marriage in a generation. Picture: Jessica Lea/Department for International Development

And yet the median age of marriage for girls is still 16.5 years. Indeed it is no coincidence that those MDGs that have been lagging the furthest behind are those to do with women and girls: MDG three on women’s empowerment and MDG five on maternal mortality.

A study commissioned by Girl Hub Ethiopia, a UK Department for International Development (DFID) project, found that if every Ethiopian girl who drops out of school was instead able to finish her education it would add US$4 billion to the country’s economy over the course of her lifetime.

As the country approaches a period of demographic dividend, with fewer young dependents, it has a major opportunity to benefit from the kind of economic growth we saw from the Asian Tiger economies. As the evidence shows, in the context of the next Growth and Transformation Plan, it will be impossible for Ethiopia to continue its economic and development progress at the same rate without addressing the issue of girls’ and women’s rights head on.

Acknowledging this, the Government of Ethiopia is, of course, already taking bold steps. At the Girl Summit – jointly hosted by the UK government and UNICEF in London in July 2014 – H.E. Demeke Mekonnen, Deputy PM, made a ground-breaking commitment on behalf of the Government of Ethiopia to eradicate child, early and forced marriage, and female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) by 2025.

Much work has already gone into putting this commitment into action, but there are five areas that DFID and UNICEF believe are critical to any successful plan.

A girl student hard at work at Beseka ABE Center in in Fantale Woreda of Oromia State
A girl student hard at work at Beseka ABE Center in in Fantale Woreda of Oromia State ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Ose

First, keeping girls in school, particularly through transition to secondary education and ensuring high quality basic education. At the same time, we need to ensure zero tolerance for violence within the school environment and ensure they have the right facilities for girls such as adequate sanitation.

In the Somali region of Ethiopia – where many aspects of gender inequality are particularly pronounced – DFID and UNICEF are jointly supporting a multi-sectoral Peace and Development Programme that will improve girls’ and women’s access to justice by establishing legal aid services and support services for female victims of violence.

Secondly, raising national rates of birth registration from the current level of less than 10 per cent to more than 90 per cent by 2020. Proof of age will assist in implementing and enforcing laws on child marriage and will also have positive knock-on effects on trafficking and illegal labour migration, for example. UNICEF supports the government of Ethiopia in establishing a vital event registration system (for births, deaths and marriages) in the country through technical and financial support. The support has allowed the enactment of a proclamation on vital events and the establishment of a national agency. Currently, regional laws are being adopted, regional bodies established, staff recruited and capacities developed.

Thirdly, changing social norms through an evidence-based, regional approach that is cognizant of and uses local languages and customs. DFID is supporting the Finote Hiwot project in Amhara to reduce child marriage through changing social norms and providing economic incentives for girls to stay in school.

IMG_2896
‘Yegna’ concert in Akaki ©Rachael Canter Flickr

Fourthly, changing public perceptions through multi-media campaigns that highlight positive role models to enable girls’ and young women’s empowerment. For example, Girl Hub Ethiopia’s Yegna radio programme uses both male and female role models to influence attitudes and behaviours towards girls. It broadcasts to more than five million people in Addis Ababa and the Amhara region and early data shows that 63 per cent of listeners say the programme made them think differently about issues in girls’ lives such as child marriage and gender-based violence.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Youth Affairs recently hosted a Girl Summit follow-up meeting to discuss how members of the National Alliance to End Child Marriage and the National FGM Network could help deliver the commitments Ethiopia made at the Summit. A 12-month communication campaign plan will be launched in the coming weeks.

Finally, contributing to the national, regional and global evidence and evaluation database is central to realising the commitment made at the Girl Summit. The National Alliance to End Child Marriage and the National FGM Network are improving data gathering and knowledge sharing and fostering innovation. We must ensure that relevant indicators on child marriage and FGM/C are included in next year’s Demographic Health Survey.

Of course there is a great deal to be optimistic about as we embark on this ambitious journey together. The Government of Ethiopia has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and we look for their future leadership by integrating girl issues into the GTP 2 and future sector policies.

We are confident that just as we do now in the social sector, in the future we will view Ethiopia as a model for delivering real change for girls and women.

Saving the innocent: Ethiopia is keeping the promise it made to its children

By: Dr KesetebirhaneAdmasu, Minister of Health, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Co-Chair, A Promise Renewed and the African leadership for Child Survival Initiative

Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia

Health extension worker Bruktawit Mulu
Bruktawit Mulu, left, Health Extension worker, counsels Wagage Finte, 35, with her infant son Eshetu Belish at home in the Kerer Kebele, Machakel distict, West Gojjam zone, Amhara region of Ethiopia, 2 July 2013. ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2013/Ose

In 2000, the world made a promise to reduce deaths among children under-five by two thirds by 2015, compared to 1990, the benchmark year for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). With less than 460 days left until the deadline, great progress has been made in Ethiopia.

It is worth remembering that, just last year, Ethiopia achieved the child survival millennium development goal (MDG 4), three years ahead of time by cutting under-five mortality from 204per 1000 live births in 1990 to 68 per 1000 live births in 2012.

New UNICEF figures published last week in the Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed report, show that Ethiopia continues to make progress in preventing deaths among children. Presentlythe number of under-five child deaths has fallen to 64per 1000 live births and more children are living to celebrate their fifth birthday.

Ethiopia’s experience and success can show world leaders some important lessons.

The first lesson is about leadership and country ownership. Governments need to lead and countries own the commitment. It may seem obvious but, despite much rhetoric, too often development priorities are still determined in Geneva or Washington rather than by the governments most concerned. By incorporating the MDGs into its national development plan, the Growth and Transformation Plan, and setting ambitious, national targets, the Government of Ethiopia has demonstrated strong leadership and country ownership, and consistently backed its decisions with high level commitment.

Second, evidence needs to determine policy choices. About 10 years ago, in order to address the increasing urban-rural gap in access to health services, the Government of Ethiopia launched the Health Extension Programme. The package of interventions wascarefully tailored to the major causes of mortality and morbidity, with epidemiology determining the priorities.

The early years were challenging, because delivering services to more than 80 million people in a vast and diverse country is not an easy task. However, year after year, the system has becomestronger and stronger, presently deploying over 38,000 government salaried rural and urban health extension workers. Starting from a focus on basic health promotion and disease prevention, incrementally high impact curative services have been integrated into the programme.

Side by side, multi-sectoral agendas have been incorporated to address root causes of childhood disease, such as food and nutrition security and water and sanitation. Community-based treatment of diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria, severe acute malnutrition and, most recently, new-born sepsis and the inclusion of new vaccines are all now central components.

That leads us to the third lesson: that governments need to resource the plan and do so at scale. By putting the 38,000 mainly rural women on the government payroll, the government not only backed up its decision to bring health services to the doorstep of its rural people with real resources, but also sent a strong message that these health extension workers (HEWs) were here to stay. Sustainability was virtually guaranteed. The HEWs have since become a cornerstone of the health system. These young women represent the true heroes, or more precisely heroines, of this MDG story.

Members of the health development army-Kilte Awlalo District-Tigray Region
Members of the health development army who have come to discuss health service related issues with the Japanese Ambassador and UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia at a health post in Kilte Awlalo District, Tigray Region ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2012/Getachew

Prompted and encouraged by the success of the Health Extension Programme, Ethiopia has recently embarked on a new social mobilisation scheme which is referred to as Health Development Army (HDA).  HDA is a network of women volunteers organised to promote health, prevent disease through community participation and empowerment. The HDA has effectively facilitated the identification of local salient bottlenecks that hinder families from utilising key Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Services and to come up with locally grown and acceptable strategies for addressing ongoing issues.  To date, the Government has been able to mobilise over three-million women to be part of an organized HDA.

But Ethiopia could not have done this alone. The fourth lesson is that international partners need to support the vision. In the concerted effort to save children’s lives, partners have played a key role. The bilateral government donors, the World Bank and UN agencies, NGOs and civil society, philanthropic foundations, and the private sector, have all played a key role through their funding, programmatic, operational and technical assistance, and their belief that Ethiopia could achieve its goals. Thanks to these coordinated efforts, Ethiopia has slashed child mortality rates. In 1990, 1 in 5 Ethiopian children could be expected to die before reaching the age of 5. Today, the figure is closer to 1 in 15. Well over 1 million children have been saved during this period.

While we deserve to celebrate our accomplishment, we also need to remind ourselves that we have a long way to go, because close to205,000 children under five years of age are still dying every year and nearly 43 per cent of these children are dying in their first 28 days of life. This means that more than 500 Ethiopian children die every day, mostly from preventable diseases. We also need to further address disparities in the delivery of services between rich and poor, urban and rural, pastoralist and agrarian areas, able and disabled and women and men. We also have to work hard to increase the quality of services rendered.

But Ethiopia has shown that a poor country, once only associated with famine and conflict, can become a leader for global health and development. The country is on a trajectory to bend the curve and achieve a major goal of “A Promise Renewed”, which is reducing the level of child death to 20 under-five deaths per 1000 live births by 2035.​  For Africa, there are no longer any excuses.

UNICEF signed Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2007 Work Plans with government. 

The signing ceremony of Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2007 Work Plans with government was held on Monday 30th June 2014 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Addis Ababa, facilitated by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED) of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia.

UN agencies signed Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2007 Work Plans with government.
From right to left: Mr. Faustin Yao Representative of UNFPA in Ethiopia, Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia, Mr. Eugene Owusu – UN resident coordinator and H.E. Mr. Ahmed Shide State Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. During the signing ceremony of Ethiopian Fiscal Year 2007 Work Plans ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

Speaking during the signing ceremony, Ato Ahmed Shide, State Minister of Finance and Economic Development said that “the support rendered through the AWPs will be instrumental for the successful implementation of the current Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP) of the Government as well as the next generation of the plan.” The Resident Coordinator of the UN Country Team in Ethiopia, Mr. Eugene Owusu, affirmed speaking on behalf of the UN Agencies that efforts and collaborations will be sustained at a continued scale during the coming years of the next UNDAF period.

Regional Implementing Partners and UN agencies including UNFPA, UNDP, UN Women, ILO and WFP were present as signatories.  Annual Working Plans (AWP) are prepared every two year following the Ethiopian Fiscal Year.  The preparation process starts in early March and follows a consultative approach at the regional and federal level.

 

Shared responsibility and convergence of interests to end micronutrient malnutrition

Micronutrient Forum Global Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia  2-6 June 2014  Bridging Discovery and Delivery
Micronutrient Forum Global Conference, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 2-6 June 2014 Bridging Discovery and Delivery ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 02 June, 2014 – The third Micronutrient Global Conference (June 2-6, 2014) has been discussing ways of overcoming micronutrient malnutrition. The forum, which brings together researchers, policy-makers, program implementers, and the private sector has been held under the theme of “Building Bridges”, thus emphasising scientific advances and multi-sectoral programming on adequate micronutrient intake.

Honorable Madam Roman Tesfaye,  First Lady of the  Federal Democratic  Republic of Ethiopia, welcomes participants of the Micronutrient Forum
Honorable Madam Roman Tesfaye, First Lady of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, welcomes participants of the Micronutrient Forum ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Sewunet

Officially opening the conference, first lady of Ethiopia H.E. Roman Tesfaye announced: “Ethiopia is committed to sustainably addressing the challenges of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency.” During a successive speech delivered by the Ethiopia Minister of Health, Dr Kesetebirhan Admassu, it was highlighted how for a developing country like Ethiopia, investment in nutrition at an early stage of life brings a better return both in terms of human capital and economic development. That is why, according to Dr Kesete, Ethiopia has integrated a core nutrition intervention into its Health Extension Programme. The Minister also emphasised three key issues when addressing malnutrition and other health challenges: “integration, implementation at scale and community ownership.”

On behalf of the Health, Population and Nutrition donor group and the four UN agencies involved in Renewed Effort Against Child Hunger and Under nutrition (REACH) and Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) in Ethiopia, Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia outlines four lessons that the global nutrition community can take from Ethiopia:

  • Integration of services for treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) into the national health system.
  • Multi-sectoral approach: linking key line ministries, the private sector, civil society and development partners.
  • Making sure that all decision makers understand that spending money on nutrition is one of the best investments in terms of human capital and economic growth.
  • Political will on implementation of nutrition programmes.

As the development community turns its attention to a post-2015 agenda, Dr Salama stressed that improving nutrition should become the quintessential Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

40 UNICEF colleagues from many countries around the world, regional offices and headquarters participated in the Micronutrient Forum, presented poster and gave oral presentations on program implementation, best practices, operations research and partnerships. UNCIEF also is member of the organising committee and funder.

UNICEF Ethiopia provided funding and had various abstracts presented at the forum in poster form or oral presentation. Several staff moderated sessions on food fortification, salt iodisation and the translation of global guidelines into policy and programmers. At a get together of all UNICEF staff, the colleagues shared observations about the forum’s contributions to their work and inter-country exchanges were set up. The Ethiopia sat down with the India country team and identified areas for exchange and support. This will continue after the forum ends.

A child getting a Vitamin A supplementation in Tergol town.
A child getting a Vitamin A supplementation in Tergol town. © UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Bizuwerk

Micronutrient malnutrition, also referred to as “the hidden hunger” is a widespread problem in the world mainly affecting developing nations. According to WHO, micronutrient deficiency results in a poor pregnancy outcome, impaired physical and cognitive development, increased risk of morbidity in children and reduced work productivity in adults. Globally, one third of children under-5 are vitamin A deficient. It is also estimated that more than 40 per cent of pregnant women and children under-5 are anemic, while one in four children under-5 years old (more than 160 million children worldwide) are also stunted.

The third Micronutrient Global Conference looks into the challenges and opportunities for scaling up evidence-based policies and programmes from diverse sectors while discussing the effectiveness of nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive interventions to improve micronutrient intake and status. The conference also debates on evidence and methods for measuring micronutrient deficiencies, excesses and coverage, with implications for policies and programmes.

More on a successful nutrition-specific programme from Ethiopia

A Day in the Life of a Well-fed Child: Ethiopia

 

A Day in the Life of a Well-fed Child: Ethiopia

By Frehiwot Yilma

AMHARA REGION, 05 June 2014 – Kossoye Ambaras is a small lush green village within Wogrea woreda in northern Gondar where it is relatively cold. Amarech Ashager, a 28 years old mother of two, is used to the weather as she lived her whole life here. At the top of her daily agenda is making sure that her family, especially her youngest son, Metages Birhanu of 9 months, is well fed.

Like many of the residents, Amerech does not rise out of bed before 7 a.m., as it is too cold to leave the house. She begins her day by breastfeeding Metages and cooking breakfast for the rest of the household. Her husband, Birhanu Tagel, is a businessman and her eldest son, Muluken, 10, is a third grader. After saying ‘good day’ to Birihanu and Muluken, Amarech will cook breakfast for Metages. Since he was introduced to solid food only three months ago, Metages eats exclusively porridge. Preparing highly nutritious porridge for a child is a technique that Amarech has recently learnt. The base of the porridge, the flour, contains various grains and legumes. For breakfast the added ingredient besides the flour is an egg and minced cabbage. As well as cooking the food, feeding the child to achieve best results is also a discipline. Amarech has learnt to feed her child while also playing and talking to him to keep him engaged.

It takes a village to raise a child

Health Extension workers in Amhara region provide preventive and curative health service to the community
Health Extension workers in Amhara region provide preventive and curative health service to the community ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014

Amarech and other mothers in the village get support from Health Extension Workers (HEWs) on how to properly raise their children. Today, HEWs Habtam Dese and Yeshiwork Tesfahun are weighing the children in the village to monitor their health and development. They too receive assistance from Gebeyaw Alamerew, the woreda Nutrition and Child Health Officer. In a typical session with a HEW, a six-month-old child will receive a vitamin A supplement, while those aged above one year will additionally receive deworming tablets. With the support of UNICEF, this has become a routine service in the woreda.

Out of 18 children weighed by the HEWs , 16 are in the average weight range. Amarech is one of the happy mothers to learn that her son, Metages, weighs 8.6 kilograms, well in the range of a healthy baby’s weight. “I am so happy that he has gained a few more grams since last time,” she says, smiling. After weighing babies in the community, Habtam and Yeshiwork demonstrate how to make a child’s diet balanced and about the importance of using iodised salt. As the child-friendly food preparation simmers over a fire, the two mothers, whose children’s weight was under the average limit, get counselling on how to improve their baby’s weight. Gebeyaw believes the woreda has come a long way. “In previous years, there were up to eight children per month in Kossoye suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), but this year there have been no cases,” he says. “This is because we monitor the children’s growth and give counselling and other packages of support to the mothers at the earliest stage possible, as we did with the two mothers today.” When the food has finished cooking, Habtam and Yeshiwork let the mothers feed the warm nutritious preparation to their children.

Bridging the nutrition gap before sunset

Amarech Ashager breast feeds Metages Birhanu, 9 months old
Amarech Ashager breast feeds Metages Birhanu, 9 months old © UNICEF Ethiopia/2014

The afternoons in Kossye Ambaras are usually foggy this time of the season. Amarech has subsequently decided to do her laundry the following day and so turns to preparing dinner as well as other domestic chores. For Metages, she has a new menu in mind: adding mashed potatoes and carrots to the porridge. She says she will also never forget adding iodised salt to the food. “Habtam has told us that iodised salt is key to a child’s mental growth. She also told us that we have to put in the salt after the food is cooked and out of the oven so that the iodine does not evaporate with the heat,” she says.

Habtam is one of 38,000 government salaried HEWs currently providing nutritional and other support to mothers and children across all regions of Ethiopia. Development partners such as UNICEF are committed to support this initiative. “Nations will face critical bottlenecks to economic growth if a large proportion of their working-age people’s IQ and productivity are limited by under-nutrition,” says Dr Peter Salama, UNICEF representative in Ethiopia.

As the day draws to an end, Amarech’s house becomes lively as the family come together and discuss their experiences. While breastfeeding Metages, Amarech tells her husband about the importance of investing in their children’s diet to ensure their healthy future. “I will feed my children a variety of foods so that they will have a bright mind,” she says with confidence. “And I will be happy if Metages becomes a doctor.”

On the recent Micronutrient Global Conference (June 2-6, 2014), researchers, policy-makers, program implementers, and the private sector has been discussing ways of overcoming micronutrient malnutrition. The forum has been held under the theme of “Building Bridges”, thus emphasising scientific advances and multi-sectoral programming on adequate micronutrient intake. Read more