Menu ENN Search

Evidence Informed Decision-Making Process on Nutrition in Ethiopia

Women with children walking to Bella health post, Amhara region, EthiopiaTesfaye Hailu has an MSc in Human Nutrition. He has worked for the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI)1 for the last eight years as a researcher. He is also a member of the Scientific and Ethical Review Committee of the EPHI.

Knowledge gained through research can help to improve policies, programmes and practices within a nutrition service delivery system and can contribute towards significant improvements in the nutritional status and nutrition equity of a country and beyond.

Coordinating mechanism

The government high level National Nutrition Coordination Body (NNCB) is the primary mechanism for leadership, policy decisions and the coordination of Ethiopia’s National Nutrition Programme (NNP). The implementation of this programme began in 2008, using a multi-sector and life-cycle approach. The NNP’s five-year plan was revised in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for the years 2013-2015. The MDGs were also used for the development of the country’s second five-year NNP (2016-2020).

The NNCB includes government sectors, partners, civilsociety organisations, academia and the private sector. Under this body is the National Nutrition Technical Committee (NNTC), comprised of senior nutrition experts from the same sectors. This committee is divided into three sub-committees:

While these committees function at a national level, there are other, similar, multi-sector nutrition coordination programme implementation arrangements in place at regional, district (woreda) and ward (kebele) levels, using the decentralised structure. The terms of reference, membership, frequency of meetings and roles and responsibilities of sectors are detailed to ensure transparency in conduct.

Generating appropriate evidence to inform national policies and programmes

The Nutrition Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Sub-Committee is led and coordinated by EPHI. Members of the Sub-Committee access the research agenda of EPHI and generate, translate and deliver evidence to decision-makers to answer their policy and programme questions. For example, Ethiopia is currently planning a national food fortification programme; in order to ensure appropriate fortification, decision-makers assessed the existing evidence summarized by EPHI and invested in novel, context-specific research. The latter entailed a National Food Consumption Survey and a National Micronutrient Survey which collected data on Ethiopian food intake and micronutrient status, respectively. EPHI is also reviewing existing data, including recently published systematic reviews, to produce policy briefs on the relevance of zinc fortification to Ethiopia. Furthermore, EPHI conducted the National Nutrition Survey in 2015. The results of this survey were reported to the FMOH to help set targets for the NNP of 2016-2020.

Information dissemination

While nutrition academics from EPHI are mandated to inform nutrition actions, various other academic institutions have also linked with the EPHI’s Department of Food Science and the Nutrition Research Directorate specifically to provide evidence-based answers to questions on nutrition programmes from decision-makers. Evidence produced by these institutions is shared across academia through annual conferences and is subsequently compiled and presented to appropriate government ministers to aid programme reform. A website is also used to disseminate research outputs.

Main barriers identified so far and suggested ways forward

Despite the ongoing efforts to use evidence in making decisions about nutrition programmes, there are still a number of gaps and barriers to the process of decision-making in Ethiopia. These currently include:

Thus far, Ethiopia has mapped the stakeholders involved in evidence-informed decision-making in nutrition, identified priority research topics by talking to these decision-makers and various other key stakeholders, and built the capacity of some researchers in nutrition academia on evidence synthesis. The government has also recognised the importance of evidence in policy-making. Many of these actions have taken place due to Ethiopia joining the EVIDENT Network (Evidence-informed Decision-making in Health and Nutrition; see, The network is facilitating Ethiopia in bridging the gap between science and policy and has therefore become an integral part of EPHI’s nutrition research agenda and the next five-year NNP.

In addition, Ethiopia’s experiences with the SURE collaboration (Supporting the Use of Research Evidence; see and its readiness to accept evidence for better implementation of programmes to improve the nutrition outcomes of the country will be pursued to help overcome some of the barriers to evidence-based policy and decision-making.

Finally, a key lesson learnt so far is that it is essential to have a good governance structure in a country in order to facilitate the acceptance of evidence-based policies and the concept of evidence-informed decision-making and what it entails.

Masresha Tessema and Yibeltal Assefa and Dr Ferew Lema at the Federal Ministry of Health, Ethiopia have contributed to this article.

More like this

en-net: Consulting opportunity with Nutrition International-TAN in Ethiopia

ETH-04 – Strengthening the role of the National Nutrition Program (NNP II) Monitoring and Evaluation Steering Committee to effectively monitor, evaluate and...

FEX: Implementing multi-sector nutrition programmes in Ethiopia and Nepal: Stakeholder perspectives

Summary of Research1 Kennedy E, Fekadu H, Ghosh S, Baral K, Davis D, Sapkota D and Webb P. Implementing Multisector Nutrition Programs in Ethiopia and Nepal: Challenges and...

FEX: EHNRI - Profile and role in the National Nutrition Programme

Name: Ethiopian Health and Nutrition Research Institute (EHNRI) Address: Gulelle Arbegnoch Street (the former Pasteur Institute) Gulele Sub City P.O.B. 5456, Addis Ababa,...

FEX: Factors affecting decision-making on use of combined/simplified acute malnutrition protocols in Niger, north-east Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan

View this article as a pdf Summary of research1 By Naoko Kozuki, Mamadou Seni, Amin Sirat, Omar Abdullahi, Mena Fundi Eso Adalbert, Marie Biotteau, Jeanette Bailey, Amelia...

FEX: Linking PSNP and NNP: experiences and challenges

Summary of report1 Audience of drama held during PSNP meeting (Laygiant) A recent pilot project focused on identifying implementation and eventually scale-up opportunities to...

NEX: Strengthening nutrition coordination and advocacy in Papua New Guinea: Role of the SUN Pooled Fund

View this article as a pdf Otto Tean is National Coordinator of the Nutrition Programme Management Unit (NPMU) and the Papua New Guinea (PNG) SUN country Focal Point. He has...

FEX: Impact of maternal undernutrition and childbearing in adolescence on offspring stunting

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Public policy change is needed to improve the nutrition status of populations globally; very little literature exists on...

FEX: A review of barriers to and enablers of nutrition policy change

Summary of research1 Location: Global What we know: Public policy change is needed to improve the nutrition status of populations globally; very little literature exists on...

en-net: Recruiting: TA consultancy to formulate social marketing and communication plan to promote rice fortification in Philippines

PHL-04- Formulation of Social Marketing and Communication Plan to Promote Rice Fortification in Philippines

Overall objective

FEX: Coordination of the Nutrition Sector response for forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

By Abigael Naliaka Nyukuri Abigael Naliaka Nyukuri worked for United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Bangladesh as the National Nutrition Cluster Coordinator between 2017 and...

FEX: Nutrition-sensitive research in Ghana

By Dr Richmond Aryeetey Dr Richmond Aryeetey is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana School of Public Health, where he teaches public health nutrition. He is engaged...

FEX: Community management of uncomplicated malnourished infants under six months old: barriers to national policy change

By Sonja Read and Marie McGrath View this article as a pdf Sonja Read is a public health nutritionist and was lead researcher (ENN consultant) on the project. Marie McGrath...

FEX: Can the Nutrition Information System be ‘trusted’ to build on available data sources?

By Patrizia Fracassi Patrizia holds an M.Sc. in Development Management. Over the past two years, she has consulted in Ethiopia for UNICEF and the World Bank. She previously...

FEX: Integrating OTP into routine health services CONCERN’s experiences

By Emily Mates Emily Mates is a public health professional with a focus in nutrition. She recently left Concern Worldwide, Ethiopia where she worked for many years in...

NEX: Co-ordinating sectors: Kenya’s Food and Nutrition Security Bill

Gladys Mugambi is the Scaling-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement Focal Point. Marjorie Volege is the SUN Support Officer UNICEF/Ministry of Health. Grace Gichohi is Nutrition Officer...

FEX: CMAM rollout in Ethiopia: the ‘way in’ to scale up nutrition

By Dr Ferew Lemma, Dr Tewoldeberhan Daniel, Dr Habtamu Fekadu and Emily Mates Dr Ferew Lemma is Senior Nutrition Advisor to the State Minister (Programs), Federal Ministry of...

FEX: The use of evidence in humanitarian decision making

Summary of study1 Location: Ethiopia, DRC and Philippines What we know: Decision making in humanitarian response requires timely information and analysis and there are...

NEX: Developing the second National Plan of Action for Nutrition in Bangladesh

Dr Md. M. Islam Bulbul is the Deputy Programme Manager with National Nutrition Services and a technical specialist in the Public Health and World Health Wing of the Ministry of...

FEX: Management of At-risk Mothers and Infants under six months (MAMI): Update and direction

Summary of meeting report1 A two-day meeting of the MAMI Special Interest Group (SIG)2 was held on 12-13 December 2019, organised by Emergency Nutrition Network (ENN),...

Blog post: Can the SUN Movement benefit from Africa’s political blocs?

How relevant are Africa's political blocs in advancing the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement agenda? Can the movement tap into the initiatives by the region's political blocs...


Reference this page

Tesfaye Hailu (2016). Evidence Informed Decision-Making Process on Nutrition in Ethiopia. Field Exchange 1, May 1997. p7.



Download to a citation manager

The below files can be imported into your preferred reference management tool, most tools will allow you to manually import the RIS file. Endnote may required a specific filter file to be used.