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Although many studies have focused on the plight, poverty, and severe malnutrition of rural Ethiopians, few have managed to incorporate qualitative and quantitative data to examine connections between health status and food production. This project is unique in that both types of data are combined and anthropometric measurements and a structured questionnaire are used to explore the link between agriculture, development, and nutrition. Additionally the research design incorporated feedback from local development agents, faculty and staff at an Ethiopian university, and community leaders. A survey of 120 households in seven villages within two districts of South Wollo revealed that a majority of households suffer from severe malnutrition. Anthropometric measures showed wasting and stunting to be prevalent, particularly in children. As part of the holistic approach, this project utilized farmers’ perceptions, and as a result, gaps between extension and health worker education services were uncovered. Additionally, further light was shed on the impact of agricultural inputs and livestock ownership on household well-being. Specifically it was determined that, although oxen are important to household well-being, they are not the single best predictor of health status. Instead, their influence appears to be limited to a correlation with the amount of food stored annually by households.
Advisor: Mary S. Willis