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Small area estimation of child undernutrition in Ethiopian woredas
Authors: Thomas Pave Sohnesen, Alemayehu Azeze Ambel, Peter Fisker, Colin Andrews, and Qaiser Khan
Source: PLOS ONE , 12(4): 1-17; DOI:
Topic(s): Child health
Country: Africa
Published: APR 2017
Abstract: Reducing child undernutrition is a key social policy objective of the Ethiopian government. Despite substantial reduction over the last decade and a half, child undernutrition is still high; with 48 percent of children either stunted, underweight or wasted, undernutrition remains an important child health challenge. The existing literature highlights that targeting of efforts to reduce undernutrition in Ethiopia is inefficient, in part due to lack of data and updated information. This paper remedies some of this shortfall by estimating levels of stunting and underweight in each woreda for 2014. The estimates are small area estimations based on the 2014 Demographic and Health Survey and the latest population census. It is shown that small area estimations are powerful predictors of undernutrition, even compared to household characteristics, such as wealth and education, and hence a valuable targeting metric. The results show large variations in share of children undernourished within each region, more than between regions. The results also show that the locations with larger challenges depend on the chosen undernutrition statistic, as the share, number and concentration of undernourished children point to vastly different locations. There is also limited correlation between share of children underweight and stunted across woredas, indicating that different locations face different challenges.