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UNICEF Ethiopia/2016/Ayene

Convening the World Bank and a range of partners to improve women and children’s health and nutrition in Ethiopia

This ambitious programme provided financial support and technical guidance to the Government of Ethiopia to improve the reach of vital health and nutrition interventions to tackle the country’s high rate of stunting.


  • CIFF
  • UK Aid
  • World Bank
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Cargill Foundation
  • Comic Relief UK
  • Government of Ethiopia


  • SDG 1 - No Poverty
  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 3 - Good Health & Wellbeing
  • SDG 5 - Gender Equality
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 17 - Partnership for the Goals






2017 - 2022

Ethiopia has long suffered from malnutrition, with the tragic famine in the 1980s garnering global attention. Despite huge progress, when our work there begun in 2017, 38% of children were stunted and nearly one third of the women malnourished. There were many reasons for such high levels, including diseases, poor quality diets and limited access to health and nutrition services.

Our programme 

To tackle these complex, multiple drivers of malnutrition, The Power of Nutrition pooled funding from a range of partners to improve and scale up high impact maternal and child health and nutrition services. The interventions aimed to support adolescent girls, pregnant and breastfeeding women along with children under five from lower socio-economic groups and underserved communities. We worked with the World Bank to provide financial and technical support to the Government, who developed strategic policies and guidelines, ensured multisector nutrition coordination and systems strengthening, and institutionalised high-impact, evidence-based nutrition interventions nationwide. The programme worked closely with community health workers to increase the use of their services, particularly for those most in need of them.

Interventions focused on a range of key services including antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, family planning, vitamin A and iron and folic acid supplementation, as well as immunisation. The focus was also on strengthening health systems – it did this by improving the supply chain of health and nutrition commodities, strengthening data systems and using learning to inform better decision making. 

Programme interventions


Delivering vaccination campaigns in camps hosting refugees and internally displaced people.


Providing vital vitamin A and iron and folic acid supplementation to mothers and children.

Women's health care

Supporting mothers with improved antenatal services and family planning.


Supporting the design and development of policies and assessments that allow the Ministry of Health to strengthen its capacity to manage its national nutrition programme.

Financial incentives

Incentivising health system performance in nutrition by disbursing funds when health systems deliver key health and nutrition services and implement good practices.

System strengthening

Strengthening coordination of multisectoral nutrition activities at federal, regional, zonal and woreda (local) levels.


Progress to date


increase in skilled practitioners


Increase in monitoring of young children


reduction in maternal mortality

The programme ended in March 2022. During the five-year period, the partnership supported the provision of nutrition services and commodities to almost 16 million children and seven million women. The programme helped improve the delivery of key health services for women and children including antenatal care, skilled birth attendance, family planning, vitamin A and iron and folic acid supplementation, immunisation and nutrition.

Building on this success, the World Bank and the Government designed a new health operation in continuation of the programme. This became operational in December 2022 and allowed the government to target underserved regions and respond to regressions in service uptake that were triggered by Covid-19 and conflict.

We also designed a new programme which complements the success of Ethiopia I, this time working with UNICEF.

Read about the second phase to our programme in Ethiopia here, you can also learn about our response to the current humanitarian crisis here.