Milk matters for child nutrition in Somali Region, Ethiopia

Children in the pastoral areas of the Horn of Africa are among the most nutritionally vulnerable people in the world. In response to more frequent droughts, the international community tends to prioritise food aid and therapeutic feeding, with little understanding of the potential role of livestock milk in maintaining child nutritional status. The report “Milk matters: the impact of dry-season livestock support on milk supply and child nutrition in Somali Region, Ethiopia” (2012, 50pp) by Kate Sadler et al presents the findings of studies in Somali Region assessing the impact of small-scale livestock interventions, designed to sustain access to and availability of animal milk at household level over the dry season, on the nutritional status of children. The results reveal that, where this intervention was made, livestock milk offtake improved greatly, child consumption of the milk increased and child nutritional status stabilised compared to that of children in control sites. The direct costs of the livestock interventions were 45-75% less than those incurred through therapeutic feeding. The 4-year “Milk Matters” research programme of Tufts University into the role of milk in pastoral child nutrition calls for new, holistic and preventative approaches to addressing child malnutrition in pastoral regions.

A 4-page technical brief “Protecting milk supply to pastoralist children: good practice from the Milk Matters Project in Ethiopia“, based primarily on this report, was published in 2015.

Posted on 28 May 2012 in Pastoralism & Gender, Pastoralism, Policy & Power