13.3 Why Ethiopia has an NIS
Ethiopia is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world. Famines and food shortages brought on by drought have been a major problem through the years, and to a lesser extent there have also been problems triggered by flood, pests and livestock diseases. The recorded history of famine and food shortages in the country goes back hundreds of years, with considerable loss of human life and the destruction of property. In addition to climate, the roots of Ethiopia’s vulnerability to disaster are in its subsistence economy. About 80% of the population remain subsistence farmers, with another 10% being pastoral nomads.
Currently, the food and nutrition information system is being compiled, analysed and used for decision-making by the Disaster Risk Management and Food Security Sector (DRMFSS). The creation of the DRMFSS has created a capacity for prior awareness of the need for disaster preparedness, encompassing, among other things, the ability to provide advance warnings and to develop response mechanisms based on an effective early decision making system.
However, despite the high prevalence of undernutrition and the history of nutrition crises in Ethiopia, nutrition indicators that can be used for effective decision-making are not routinely reviewed for early warning. To fill this information gap, using selected nutrition indicators from routine health programmes is a practical alternative.
Why is an NIS so important for Ethiopia?
Ethiopia is a country where there is food insecurity and considerable vulnerability of households to seasonal food shortages. Availability of reliable information that can assist in early recognition of the problem for timely intervention is highly important.
Now that you have read about the NIS and its relevance to Ethiopia, you are going to look at the critical indicators and their data sources that come from the routine services that you deliver in the community.