As one of the poorest countries in the world, Ethiopia's rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest, even within sub‑Sahara Africa. The causes and relative importance of various determinants of malnutrition in Ethiopia are not well understood. This paper specifically explores some of the less obvious factors affecting children's nutritional status in Ethiopia. It is based on information collected in 2002 from 1001 households with eight-year-old children mainly from food insecure communities in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Addis Ababa Regional States. As part of the Young Lives Project, this study is particularly important because the determinants of the nutritional status of eight‑year‑old children is much less researched than that of younger children, not only in Ethiopia but in other developing countries.
The results show that weight‑for‑height z‑scores depend on the sex of the child and suggest that short‑term malnutrition is higher for male children than for female children. We conclude that variables such as physical and natural capital (wealth index, ownership of radio, television and land), human capital (education of members of the household), social capital (strength of a caregivers' ties to social organizations and networks), age‑sex composition of households (the number of girls, the number of female adults) and location of residence (rural or urban) are important in influencing WHZ in eight‑year‑olds.
We conclude that addressing child malnutrition, especially WHZ, requires a multi‑dimensional approach that takes into account food security, public health and gendered intra‑household dynamics if it is to be effective. Moreover, a cross‑sectoral nutrition policy is needed to improve policy synergies.
Mekonnen, A.; Bekele Tefera; Tassew Woldehanna; Jones, N.; Seager, J.; Tekie Alemu; Getachew Asgedom. Working Paper 26. Child Nutritional Status in Poor Ethiopian Households: The role of gender, assets and location. (2005) 55 pp.