Household food and nutrition insecurity has been a major challenge in Ethiopia where the diet is mainly composed of cereals, pulses and oil seeds. The baseline survey conducted in 2018 by BENEFIT-REALISE shows diet diversity score (DDS) of 4 to 6, the lowest being in SNNPR and the highest in Tigray. Consumption of fruits and vegetables is generally low especially in rural areas because of limited production and/or lack of awareness. Undernutrition is an underlying cause of infant and child deaths in the country. Lack of dietary diversity and micronutrient-dense food consumption, and problematic child feeding practices contribute to the high rates of child undernutrition. Production of fruits and vegetables has to accompanied by proper use of the produce. Communicable diseases are attributed to limited access to safe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene services. Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions improve nutrition by reducing the incidence of infection and disease, which limit the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
In the efforts to improve food diversity and thus contribute to nutrition security, BENEFIT-REALISE programme is conducting interventions at different scopes: improving productivity of pulses, promotion of home gardening through production of fruits and vegetables in homestead and piloting integration of nutrition with WASH in certain localities to generate evidences. The integrated nutrition, therefore, refers to piloting of home gardening in integration with WASH, which are being conducted in two programme clusters (Hawassa University cluster and Mekelle University cluster). The integrated nutrition theme is a multidisciplinary approach that involves participation of different stakeholders. The activities include improving diversity of agricultural crops to contribute to increased DDS; integrating water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions with home gardening and assessment of factors that influence the success of nutrition sensitive agriculture and WASH integration.