IMMANA Fellow - Bekele Megersa

BekeleMr. Bekele Megersa (Ethiopia) - holder of an IMMANA Fellow Round 1

Project Title: Milk consumption, nutrition and health in southern Ethiopia

Quick bio:
PhD: Agricultural Sciences (Hohenheim, 2014)
Current Employment: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Hawassa University (Ethiopia)
Home mentor: Abebe Haile, Hawassa University (Ethiopia)
Host mentor: Uriel Kitron, Deptartment of Environmental Sciences, Emory University (USA)
Start date: June 15, 2015


Project summary: 
Pastoralist households in Ethiopia and elsewhere keep multiple livestock species and livelihood strategies to address their diverse needs and environmental constraints. Maintaining adequate milk consumption especially for children is a major challenge, as households have few other sources of the nutrients needed for healthy growth and cognitive development, and milk is increasingly sold in exchange for lower-cost cereal grains. This study uses a case study in the Borana region of Ethiopia to develop improved diet diversity measures for these settings, where standard food-frequency questionnaires may miss the many ways in which animal source foods are consumed. This new food-frequency measure will then be used to test links between milk consumption and children’s growth and health status. A secondary aim is to calculate the exchange values of milk sold for grain in terms of nutritional value, to determine whether pastoralist households are improving or worsening their nutrient intake by trading one for the other. The validated diet diversity score could be applicable to other pastoralist communities across Africa, and our focus on nutrient exchange ratios can be used in other settings to measure the contribution of market activity to nutritional adequacy.

Project update: 
Read an interview with Bekele about the progress of his work