Child Nutritional Status in Poor Ethiopian Households: The role of gender, assets and location

A. Mekonnen, T.O. Bezuayehu, T. Woldehanna, N. Jones, J. Seager, T. Alemu, G. Asgedom

Research output: Book/ReportReportAcademic


As one of the poorest countries in the world, Ethiopia¿s rate of child malnutrition is one of the highest, even within sub¿Saharan Africa. The causes and relative importance of various determinants of malnutrition in Ethiopia are not well understood. This paper specifically explores some of the less obvious factors affecting children¿s nutritional status in Ethiopia. It is based on information collected in 2002 from 1001 households with eight-year-old children mainly from food insecure communities in Tigray, Amhara, Oromia, SNNP and Addis Ababa Regional States. As part of the Young Lives Project, this study is particularly important because the determinants of the nutritional status of eight-year-old children is much less researched than that of younger children, not only in Ethiopia but in other developing countries. The results from simple correlation analysis indicated that a number of variables were significantly related to weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) (as an indicator of wasting). In addition to analysing WHZ for the whole sample, we have also separately analysed WHZ for urban and rural households, and found that the determinants differed. The results show that weight-for-height z-scores depend on the sex of the child and suggest that short term malnutrition is higher for male children than for female children. We conclude that variables such as physical and natural capital (wealth index, ownership of radio, television and land), human capital (education of members of the household), social capital (strength of a caregiver¿s ties to social organisations and networks), age-sex composition of households (the number of girls, the number of female adults) and location of residence (rural or urban) are important in influencing WHZ in eight-year-olds. We conclude that addressing child malnutrition, especially WHZ, requires a multi-dimensional approach that takes into account food security, public health and gendered intra-household dynamics if it is to be effective. Moreover, a cross-sectoral nutrition policy is needed to improve policy synergies.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCanada
Number of pages55
ISBN (Print)9781904427278
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Publication series

NameWorking paper young lives


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