Despite economic growth, Ethiopia still has some of the highest rates in the world of undernutrition among children under the age of five.
Multidimensional poverty and food insecurity, lack of access to safe and clean water, poor sanitation conditions and facilities, and unsafe hygiene practices continue to be major challenges to overcoming malnutrition in the country. Climate change is contributing to this, with severe droughts and floods affecting agricultural production and access to clean water. Structural injustice and gender disparities also play a significant role as women and other most vulnerable groups are facing challenges that affects their decision-making power on resource management and utilisation.
Children living in rural areas are 1.5 to two times more likely to be stunted compared to those living in urban centers. Similar trends are seen in areas where women’s educational status is lowest, disadvantaging them in terms of access to basic healthcare, water, sanitation and hygiene services as well as health related information. According to the 2019 UNICEF vulnerability analysis report for Ethiopia, an estimate of multidimensional poverty in the country found that 88% of children are deprived of at least three basic services including health and WASH.
In 2015, the Government of Ethiopia launched the Seqota Declaration, in which a bold commitment to end malnutrition by 2030 was declared. In this policy environment, nutrition and WASH are approached as a multisectoral issue that requires strategic geographical focus, interventions in all relevant sectors, commitment and support from all Ministries, and a joint plan that is 'owned by all'.
Despite positive policies and ongoing efforts to curb existing nutrition and WASH related issues, Right2Grow observe gaps in policy implementation and a lack of effective coordination mechanisms among government institutions as well as between government institutions, civil society, and the private sector.
Lobby and advocacy
There is also a need to strengthen nutrition and WASH leadership linkages at different levels and understanding of nutrition-sensitive WASH interventions, as well as transparency on budgeting and expenditures within the sectors. By taking the challenges in nutrition and WASH in Ethiopia into account, Right2Grow is strategically designed to strengthen existing efforts and multisectoral platforms of lobby and advocacy involving stakeholders at all levels.