Ethiopia: Surviving Hard Times through Therapeutic Foods


The Government of Ethiopia implements the Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) program, supported by UNICEF with generous contribution from ECHO.

Story: Bethlehem Kiros & Photos: Meklit Mersha (UNICEF Ethiopia) |

SNNPR, Ethiopia–Poverty and drought have left people in many parts of Ethiopia to grapple with food shortage; the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR) is no different. Children are most affected, as evidenced by a high number of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases. Fortunately, the Government of Ethiopia implements the Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) program, supported by UNICEF with generous contribution from ECHO. The program enables children affected by malnutrition to receive life-saving services at stabilization centers (SC) and health posts, such as 32-year-old Bogalech Boreda’s twin infants.

Bogalech’s 10-month-old twins Kibru and Tegegn have been in the Outpatient Therapeutic Feeding Program (OTP) for SAM more than once. Since Bogalech has three more children at home, she says feeding the twins has not been easy.

She gets help from her older children when they return from school, such as Caleb, 12, pictured here holding one of the twins.  Still, taking care of the infants occupies most of Bogalech’s day, making it impossible for her to work. Her husband is unemployed with an additional two children from another wife, his earnings from a small plot of farm land are not enough to provide for them.

The health extension workers (HEWs) of Morancho Kutela health post have arranged for Bogalech to receive targeted supplementary food multiple times since the twins were born. “I normally had enough milk to nurse my children in the past,” explains Bogalech, “but now, there are two of them and I also do not eat enough at home, so they have been suffering since they were born.”

Three weeks before the picture was taken, Tegegn suffered from diarrhea and was referred to the Stabilization Center (SC) at the kebele’s (sub-district) health center.

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