Health extension worker Elsebeth Aklilu counsels women, who are accompanied by their children, on best nutrition practices, outside the health post in the village of Maderia, in Gemechis, a woreda (district) of Oromia Region. Health extension workers are government-paid health workers, often working in their community of origin, who provide community-based health promotion and disease-prevention services. There are many challenges to the job. In her previous post, Ms. Aklilu has had to spend a day walking 52 km to reaching a distant health post to assist with services. She stayed overnight at the health post then spent the next day walking back. Ms. Aklily says, “I'm working regardless of the challenges. I want to serve my community. I want to see the changes. That's what keeps me in this job.” She explained that some mothers used to believe they should not eat much during their third trimester of pregnancy as their baby would gain too much weight, making for a difficult delivery. By educating members of the community, she is helping to dispel myths like these. “Causes of malnutrition are multidimensional: infectious diseases, such as diarrhoea; lack of proper feeding practices; lack of proper breastfeeding practices; poor sanitation; lack of family planning,” she says..
In July/August 2014, Ethiopia is nearing the end of a joint European Union (EU)-UNICEF national nutrition security programme that is building on government-led efforts to permanently reduce the rates of under-five child and maternal under-nutrition. The programme is part of a four-year (2011–2015) UNICEF/EU global initiative, with multiple regional, national and community partners. It focuses on four countries in sub-Saharan Africa and five in Asia but aims to influence nutrition-related policies throughout these regions. The Africa programme – Africa’s Nutrition Security Partnership (ANSP) – focuses on Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali and Uganda. It is intended to benefit directly 1 million children and 600,000 pregnant and lactating women – and to benefit indirectly 25 million children and 5.5 million pregnant or lactating women across the continent over the long term. At the macro level, the programme builds policy capacity for nutrition security; institutional capacity; data and knowledge sharing; and the scale-up of nutrition interventions. At the national and district levels, it promotes government and community ownership of development processes, including training, mapping and the mobilization of intra-community networks, such as women’s groups. And it utilizes a cross-sector approach, combining nutrition, health, water and sanitation, agriculture and social protection interventions to maximize the positive effects on child and maternal nutrition. The goal is generational change in both institutional and individual beliefs and actions on nutrition – contributing, as well, to the achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). ©UNICEF Ethiopia/2014/Nesbitt
Photo prise le 29 mai 2015 (© UNICEF Ethiopia / Flickr)