Chronic malnutrition is the single largest contributor to mortality for children under the age of five in Ethiopia, and children in pastoralist areas are especially vulnerable. The food security of pastoralist households is increasingly threatened by a degrading natural resource base, and parents often lack sufficient information about diet diversification and good nutrition. USAID-PRIME focuses its efforts during the crucial window of the first 1,000 days of a child’s life and will follow USAID’s three pillars of food security: access, availability, and utilization. The activity will achieve nutritional impact by increasing demand for nutritious foods and leveraging activities under PRIME’s other focus areas, such as efforts to increase livestock productivity.


Animal milk, one of the most nutritionally complete foods, plays a critical role in the diet of pastoralist children, and findings from the USAID Milk Matters project have demonstrated a direct link between fodder availability and access during the dry seasons, and child nutrition. In line with these findings, USAID-PRIME activities will strengthen fodder availability during periods of drought and build more sustainable access to milk and other animal products. The aim is to increase milk consumption and thereby improve nutritional outcomes for children.

USAID-PRIME will also leverage private sector investment for nutrition support and capitalize on PRIME knowledge and learning management to effectively inform policy and practices regarding pastoral nutrition and food security. USAID will also create demand for diversified food and establish a strong social behavior change communication (SBCC) strategy to address both the underlying and immediate causes of malnutrition such as child and maternal health, inequitable access to resources, and household decision making practices.


USAID-PRIME will improve use of nutritious foods using SBCC such as edutainment programs that are interesting and compelling to households and communities to spark social change. USAID will conduct research and barrier analyses to identify determinants associated with a particular behavior so that more effective BCC messages and support activities (e.g. changing social norms) can be developed. The activity will collaborate with local production talents on scriptwriting and creating compelling messages for radios, comics, posters, and live theater/circus.


USAID-PRIME will promote the adoption of integrated nutrition approaches and train health and agricultural extension workers on the Essential Nutrition Action framework, an integrated package of preventative nutrition encompassing actions related to infant and young child feeding and nutrition, and importance of diet diversity, respectively.


Berissa Abdella, Acting Nutrition Advisor , +251 (0) 111.110.777

Mercy Corps Ethiopia

House #504 Mundy St. Piazza

Arada Sub-city, Kebele 01/02, Addis Ababa