Complementary Feeding Practices among Infant and Young Children in Southern Ethiopia: Review of the Findings from a Canada-Ethiopia Project

  •  Carol Henry    
  •  Susan Whiting    
  •  Nigatu Regassa    


Collaborative projects have been undertaken between Hawassa University, Ethiopia and the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, with aims at mitigating protein and micronutrient malnutrition in Ethiopia. The main objective of this review is to assess complementary feeding practices of mothers in the project sites in Southern Ethiopia based on baseline data compiled by a total of nine independent studies. Findings revealed that complementary feeding practices are unacceptably poor in all the districts considered, despite the fact that larger proportion of mothers had knowledge on the timing and importance of complementary feeding to their child. The computed Diet Diversity Score (DDS) which was measured using 24-hour recall of children’s intake, indicated that those with adequate DDS (> 4) were < 25% for 6 of 9 surveys, and the most frequently consumed food groups were low protein grains, roots and tubers. All the study zones had low wealth index and high household food insecurity, both of which corresponded with low DDS. The prevalence of both current and exclusive breast feeding practices were good (above 70%). The prevalence of food secure households was very low in all the study districts and was reflected in very high levels of stunting and underweight among infants and young children. We conclude that future efforts should focus on both nutrition-based educational interventions to improve knowledge and practice of complementary feeding, and on nutrition-sensitive agriculture to increase access to affordable protein rich crops such as pulses, and curb the very high food insecurity levels through improving household income and wealth status.

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