Hunger and malnutrition are devastating problems, particularly for the poor and unprivileged. According to the study by the Ethiopian Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation, 50 percent of the Ethiopian population are living below the food poverty line and cannot meet their daily minimum nutritional requirement of 2200 calories. Women in the reproductive age group and children are most vulnerable to malnutrition due to low dietary intakes, inequitable distribution of food within the household, improper food storage and preparation, dietary taboos, infectious diseases, and care.
The prevalence of stunting in children below five years in East Africa averages about 48 percent, which is the highest in the world. Evidence also showed that the situation in Ethiopia is worse than in other East African countries. A few local studies on child nutrition have also shown similar results and confirmed that malnutrition, i.e., stunting, is one of the most important public health problems in this country.
The present study is based on national data from the 2000 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) with reference to the 13,447 women age 15-49 years and 9,768 children under five. The general objective of this study is to examine the impact of socioeconomic and demographic factors on maternal and child nutritional status, using multivariate analysis. This study also examines the association of exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding with stunting among children under age five.