Ethiopia: Are children of employed mothers less stunted than those of unemployed mothers?

Kedir Mohammed 1, Ibrahim Mohammed 2, Mohammed Hussein 3
1 Nutrition Cluster Coordinator of the SubNational Emergency Nutrition Coordination Unit (ENCU), Semera, Afar Region, Ethiopia. 2 Lecturer in the Public Health Programme of Samara University, Ethiopia. 3 Head of the Afar Disaster Prevention and Food Security Programme Coordination Office, Ethiopia (Field Exchange 68 , November 2022. p69)
Resource type:
Case studies and tools

In Ethiopia, undernutrition remains a critical issue with current national estimates suggesting that the prevalence of stunting (36.8%), underweight (21.3%) and wasting (7%) in children 6-59 months of age is among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa (EMDHS, 2019). In Afar Regional State, situated in the north-eastern part of the country, undernutrition rates are estimated to be some of the highest in Ethiopia according to the most recent EMDHS (2019), with stunting, underweight and wasting prevalence estimated to be 42.2%, 31.1% and 13.5% respectively. 

Abala is a town in north-eastern Ethiopia bordered on the west by the Tigray Region. Abala is in the administrative centre of Afar, with Abala town having a total population of 56,245. Women’s employment levels have been steadily rising in the town, particularly following Government employment reforms which came into effect in 2019. To understand how this increase in women’s employment could impact the nutrition outcomes of children, a survey was conducted in Abala Town. In the hope that the findings of this investigation would potentially provide an important initial step to determining how to mitigate nutrition challenges in the region.

Key messages from the article : 

  • This survey explores whether an increase in women’s employment has impacted the nutrition outcomes of children in Abala Town, Ethiopia.
  • The results of this study indicated that the prevalence of stunting and underweight in children 6-59 months of age was higher in those with unemployed mothers compared to children of employed mothers. Wasting levels were however not significantly different.
  • Factors found to be significantly associated with stunting were mothers’ education status and employment status as well as diarrhoea in the previous two weeks and the sex, age and immunisation status of the child

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This resource presents evidence or data but has not been peer reviewed