ADDIS ABABA – Two United Nations agencies have made a partnership to support the government of Ethiopia in preventing acute malnutrition in children and mothers and provide school-based nutrition and health services.
The agencies, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Food Program (WFP), said their three-year initiative would help Ethiopia’s effort prevent acute malnutrition in the country, which has seen insufficient progress over the past two decades.
The current malnutrition level is expected likely to be exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ongoing desert locust infestation, and persistent climate-related crises such as floods and droughts.
Reports say at least 4.4 million people will require treatment for severe and acute malnutrition this year – 2.7 million children and 1.7 million pregnant and breastfeeding women.
“We are concerned that millions of children remain susceptible to malnutrition, and we are already seeing worrying signs of increased malnutrition due to COVID-19 and the desert locust infestation,” said Adele Khodr, UNICEF Representative.
“We are, however, convinced that in working together smartly and differently, we can support the Government of Ethiopia to drastically prevent the root causes of malnutrition and reach every child and mother who requires treatment for malnutrition,” Khodr added.
In a joint statement, the agencies claim sustained and intensive action is required, combining school and community-based prevention activities with expanded access to treatment for children and mothers with acute malnutrition in selected hotspot woredas (districts).
This approach, they said, would help Ethiopia move towards the goal of decreasing acute malnutrition in children from nearly 10 percent to less than three percent by 2030.
The UNICEF-WFP initiative targets 100 of the most vulnerable woredas in Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples, Somali and Tigray regions.
“The Government is investing heavily in the nutrition, health and education of current and future generations of Ethiopians,” said Steven Were Omamo, WFP Country Director. “We are confident that this new partnership will add importantly to those efforts and thereby contribute to the Government’s vision of social and economic transformation in Ethiopia.”
The two agencies said they will support the government to provide integrated services to manage acute malnutrition in 100 woredas through the initiative.
[Photo UNICEF Ethiopia/Ayene]