Factors Associated with Child Malnutrition in the Somali Region of Ethiopia: a Cross-Sectional Survey

Hyun jung Lee, Mary W. Murimi, John A. Dawson

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In Ethiopia, malnutrition contributes to more than one-third of under-five child deaths. This cross-sectional study aimed at identifying risk factors for child malnutrition by examining the role of underlying determinants such as food insecurity and water, sanitation, and hygiene conditions (WASH). A total of 116 households with under-five children in the Somali region of Ethiopia were recruited using a simple random sampling technique. Data was collected using a questionnaire that assessed socioeconomic status, child anthropometrics, household food insecurity, dietary diversity, and WASH. SPSS version 24 and R version 3.5.1 were used to conduct analysis. Most (71.56%) of children were malnourished. A majority of households reported food insecurity (70.69%) and consumed a diet with limited dietary diversity (80.17%). Most households did not have access to improved drinking water sources (72.42%) and sanitation facilities (98.28%). Maternal self-employment status was a risk factor for child wasting (OR = 3.80, 95% CI [1.04, 13.84], p =.05) and underweight (OR = 4.90, 95% CI [1.58, 15.17], p =.01). Child wasting was associated with household income (OR =.62, 95% CI [.42,.91], p =.03) and open defecation (OR = 11.17, 95% CI [1.57, 79.39], p =.02). While low household dietary diversity was a risk factor for child stunting (OR = 5.33, 95% CI [1.85, 16.55], p <.01), maternal hand washing practices after defecation were a protective factor for child stunting (OR =.28, 95% CI [.12,.68], p =.01). These findings underscore the importance of developing an integrated approach between different sectors in Nutrition, Health, WASH, and Food Security for health promotion among young children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-77
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Social Welfare
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • Child malnutrition
  • Food diversity
  • Food security
  • WASH


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