Unlocking the potential of irrigation for improved nutrition in Ethiopia
Poor nutrition threatens health, exacerbates inequalities, affects economic productivity, and traps countries like Ethiopia in a vicious cycle of poverty. About 38% of children below the age of 5 in the country are too short for their age (stunted). This means that these children live in an environment that impairs their physical and cognitive growth potential. The impairment often begins at conception, as mothers’ diets can also be poor, affecting not only their health but also the growth of the fetus in the womb.
To address the pressing problem of malnutrition, the Ethiopian government has developed numerous policies and programs. Most of these programs aim to increase agricultural production and productivity to ensure year-round access to food. They are often complemented by nutrition education programs aimed at influencing the dietary habits of the population. In practice, however, these goals are not always congruent, as evidenced by repeated complaints from recipients of nutrition education who say, “We now know what a healthy diet is, but where are the foods that allow us to practice what we learn”.