Ethiopia has witnessed significant reductions in child mortality, undernutrition, and communicable diseases, but more substantial and faster progress is still needed. The Ethiopia Strategy Support Program (ESSP) synthesized and presented a report on nutrition in Ethiopia to the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the design team of the Food and Nutrition Strategy. Compact2025, through its technical support to the National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN) in Ethiopia, facilitated meetings with the MOH and the ESSP team while supporting the development and presentations of the paper.
The report, authored by Kaleab Baye and Kalle Hirvonen, warns that alarming rise in obesity and noncommunicable diseases, particularly in urban areas, requires urgent policy and programmatic attention. They find that unhealthy diets drive multiple forms of malnutrition—both undernutrition and obesity—and are the underlying cause of significant proportion of both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Cross-sectoral interventions focusing on making healthy diets available, affordable, and accessible are urgently needed. Research shows that maintaining the relatively high adherence to recommended breastfeeding practices and improving the quality of diets will be key to improving nutrition in Ethiopia. Implementation of effective nutrition messaging that shapes consumer behavior to adopt healthy dietary patterns, while bridging gaps in both the reach and the quality of such messaging is warranted. The health extension program, which is the cornerstone of the transformation of the health sector, may need to be redesigned in a way that improves its reach and the quality of the services it provides and minimizes the risk of burnout of frontline health workers.
The synthesis report, conducted at the request of the MoH, supports the Ministry's nutrition case team, the multisectoral design team of the Food and Nutrition Strategy, and other key stakeholders. Evidence continues to play a key role in informing the design and implementation of the Food and Nutrition Strategy and accelerating progress in ending hunger and malnutrition.