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Consumption, production, market access and affordability of nutritious foods in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia

Poor dietary quality is a significant risk factor for stunting and micronutrient deficiencies among young children and globally one of the leading causes of premature death and disease (Arimond & Ruel, 2004; Forouzanfar et al., 2015). Dietary quality is typically proxied by diversity of the consumed diet. Foods with similar nutritional qualities are first grouped together and dietary diversity is measured by the number of different food groups consumed in a certain time interval. For example, the World Health Organization recommends that children 6-23 months consume at least from four food groups (out of seven) every day. Based on this metric, Ethiopian children in this age range consume one of the least diversified diets in sub-Saharan Africa (Hirvonen, 2016) with only 14 percent meeting the WHO recommendation (CSA & ICF, 2016). Recent analysis of the timing of growth faltering of young children suggests that poor complementary feeding practices, including poor dietary quality, is an important risk factor for stunting in Ethiopia (Hirvonen, Headey, Golan, & Hoddinott, 2019). The available evidence suggests that diets are monotonous also at the household level. For example, in 2011, the average Ethiopian household consumed only 42 kg of fruits and vegetables in a year per adult equivalent (Hassen Worku, Dereje, Minten, & Hirvonen, 2017) – far below the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 146 kg per year (Hall, Moore, Harper, & Lynch, 2009).