Since the launching of the National Information Platform for Nutrition (NIPN) in Ethiopia, there have been a series of seven topical NIPN Policy and Research Seminars, which were brought by international and national researchers from different backgrounds and disciplines. Last September, the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) and Compact2025 joined hands to organize another seminar. The event focused on a study on Remoteness, Urbanization and Child Nutrition in Sub Sharan Africa, by Derek Headey, David Stifel, Liangzhi You and Zhe Guo. The seminar brought together a diverse set of over 60 participants from local universities, ministry staff, program implementers, and donors.
Dr. Stifel explained how the IFPRI-Lafayette research team linked GIS data to survey clusters in Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for 23 countries in Africa to explore how urbanization and remoteness can affect nutrition outcomes. He discussed the disparity in nutritional outcomes between rural and urban areas and the linkages of the proximity to large urban centers. Dr. Stifel also highlighted that in Ethiopia, children in rural communities have worse linear growth and dietary outcomes than urban children. However, children in more remote rural communities face only a small nutritional penalty compared to children from less remote communities. Importantly, the harmful effects of remoteness and rural living disappear once controlled for education, wealth, and social/infrastructural services. This implies that the key nutritional disadvantages faced by rural populations originate largely from social and economic poverty.
After a Q&A session, the closing remarks were offered by a panel of experts, who agreed that this evidence reinforces the need for a greater emphasis on geographical, ecological and social aspects of affected communities to support the successful implementation of the National Nutrition Program. The panel also suggested that the NIPN could further explore how livelihood interventions and wealth creation can impact nutrition outcomes in the Ethiopian context.
The NIPN is an initiative supported by the European Union, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Kingdom Department for International Development. In Ethiopia, NIPN is housed at the EPHI and works with many sectors to support the decision making under the National Nutrition Program and the National Food and Nutrition Policy. IFPRI, through Compact2025, supports EPHI during the initial years of NIPN implementation. The NIPN policy and research seminars allow NIPN to disseminate widely existing high-level research findings on nutrition issues, to promote increased nutrition knowledge among decision makers, to facilitate interactions between the decision makers, implementers and researchers, and to encourage the involvement of various national nutrition stakeholders with the NIPN process.
These NIPN seminars are gaining popularity and decision makers are taking notice. With over 450 participants in total, the continuous high audience turnout indicates commitment from program and policy makers for understanding nutrition evidence and overcoming nutrition challenges. As Dr Cherinet Abuye, Growth through Nutrition’s Sr Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Advisor, stated “NIPN is one of the few forums where researches and programmatic decision makers meet to discuss these important issues.”
Through the connection with the Compact2025, NIPN stakeholders learn from success stories and global challenges facing nutrition today. Compact2025 will work with the EPHI to continue to organize the NIPN Policy and Research Seminars and other outreach events.