Food Security

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 651–664 | Cite as

Seasonal variations in household food insecurity and dietary diversity and their association with maternal and child nutritional status in rural Ethiopia

  • Kedir T. Roba
  • Thomas P. O’Connor
  • Nora M. O’Brien
  • Chanyalew S. Aweke
  • Zenebe A. Kahsay
  • Nick Chisholm
  • Edward LahiffEmail author
Original Paper


Food availability and access are strongly affected by seasonality in rural households in Ethiopia. However, relationships between household food insecurity indicators and dietary diversity and nutritional status of reproductive age mothers and their young children are unclear. A longitudinal study was conducted among 800 farming households in lowland and midland agro-ecological zones of rural Ethiopia in pre and post-harvest seasons. A structured interview, which included measures of three food access indicators − household food insecurity access scale (HFIAS), household dietary diversity score (HDDS) and household food consumption score (HFCS) − was conducted. Additionally, a subset of 183 households was selected for assessment of indicators of nutritional status including maternal and child dietary diversity and anthropometric measurements for children 6–23 months of age. Magnitudes of household food insecurity indices were high by international standards, particularly during the lean season (pre-harvest). Using correlation, Chi square and multivariable regression models, HFCS in both seasons was related to maternal body mass index and haemoglobin, and weight-for-length of their children. HDDS was associated in the post-harvest season with haemoglobin level of the mothers, and weight-for-length of their children. HFCS was a better predictor of nutritional status of mothers and children in both the food surplus and lean seasons, while HDDS was a better predictor of maternal and child nutritional status post-harvest. It is recommended that nutritional interventions should therefore focus on household food insecurity as well as targeting the individual nutritional status of mothers and children.


HFIAS HFCS HDDS Malnutrition Seasonality Maternal and children Ethiopia 



The authors acknowledge Irish Aid for sponsoring this study as part of the Agridiet project. The study was funded by Irish Aid and the Higher Education Authority of Ireland through the Programme of Strategic Cooperation. We would like to thank Haramaya University and Mekelle for assisting us in transport facilities during the data collection. We also thank the Ethiopian Public Health Institute for analysing the micronutrients and Hiwot Fana Specialized University Hospital for separating serum from whole blood and storing the serum at the required temperature. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all participants of the study and data collectors.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical consideration and informed consent

This study was conducted according to the guidelines laid down in the Declaration of Helsinki and all procedures involving human subjects/patients were registered and approved by University College Cork, Ireland and Haramaya University College of Health and Medical Sciences Institution, Ethiopia, Research Ethics Review Committees. Subsequently, the final registration and approval of the protocol were granted by the Ethiopian National Ministry of Science and Technology Ethical Review Committee with registration nos. of 310/592/06 dated 08/05/06 Ethiopian calendar. Informed consent was obtained from the mothers, and verbal informed consent was obtained from the caregivers of the children; they were informed that they had the right to refuse or exit from the study at any time and refusing to participate in the study would not have any negative implications for them. Verbal consent was witnessed and formally recorded. Children and women who were found to be undernourished during assessment were referred to the nearest health institution for health care services.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

12571_2019_920_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Society for Plant Pathology and Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Health and Medical ScienceHaramaya UniversityDire DawaEthiopia
  2. 2.School of Food and Nutritional SciencesUniversity College CorkCorkIreland
  3. 3.Department of Rural Development and Agricultural ExtensionHaramaya UniversityDire DawaEthiopia
  4. 4.Department of Natural Resource Economics and ManagementMekelle UniversityMekelleEthiopia
  5. 5.Department of Food Business and DevelopmentUniversity College CorkCorkIreland

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