As we approach the one year anniversary of the June 8th Nutrition for Growth conference in London RESULTS have been pleased to hear of a major new programme to combat undernutrition in Ethiopia.

A RESULTS parliamentary delegation visited Ethiopia in early 2013.  Five MPs and Lords visited health and nutrition programmes. Among the findings from the delegation the members were shocked to learn that over 44% of children under five are stunted (chronically malnourished) and 10% are wasted (acutely malnourished). Back in the UK they shared their concerns with officials organising the June 8th ‘Nutrition for Growth’ conference in London.

Undernutrition underlies 50% of under-fives’ deaths in Ethiopia and severely limits the development of individuals and the country as a whole. For example, mortality associated with undernutrition has reduced Ethiopia’s workforce by 8%. The annual costs associated with undernutrition are estimated at around 16% of GDP. Eliminating stunting in Ethiopia is a necessary step for growth and development in the country.

The Nutrition for Growth event on June 8th 2013 was a major conference where donor countries, agencies and the private sector made significant pledges of funds or technical support to strengthen nutrition programmes around the world. But a pledging conference is no use to the worlds poorest unless the funds are actually spent. Since June last year RESULTS has been pushing for a strong accountability process to ensure the funds pledged are delivered.

RESULTS is therefore pleased that DFID have now agreed a major new funding programme to reduce undernutrition in Ethiopia. The UK will invest up to £36 million over four years to support the delivery of nutrition interventions to 3.5 million children under 5. Their investment will support the implementation of a package of high impact nutrition and newborn interventions in four of the worst affected regions including Tigray and Afar.

DFID said:   “Ethiopia is a DFID priority country for nutrition. Addressing malnutrition underpins our plans and compliments our investments in health, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), education, livelihoods and private sector development”.

The programme will include vitamin A supplementation, deworming and provision of zinc to children with diarrhoea; the promotion of breastfeeding and nutritious complementary feeding; postnatal care; and iron supplementation and nutrition counselling for pregnant and lactating women. The programme will be done by: providing training and  commodities to community Health Extension Workers; conducting Behaviour Change Communication  campaigns; increasing coverage of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM); strengthening the supply of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food; and strengthening the data availability and evidence base on nutrition programming.

Heather Wheeler, MP for South Derbyshire who was on the delegation, said “We are pleased to see UK funding for nutrition specific programmes going up. £36 million in one of Africa’s poorest countries is an excellent investment”.

Steve Lewis, Head of Global Health Advocacy at RESULTS,  said “We are now beginning to see the results of the Nutrition For Growth conference on June 8th last year. We now urge DFID to make public more concrete examples of new nutrition programmes. This will put pressure on other countries and donor agencies to do the same.”

(Apart from Heather Wheeler MP, other delegates to Ethiopia were Kevin Barron MP and Tony Cunningham MP, along with Lord Hussain and Baroness  Hooper)