09 October 2019
Stunting is a global burden affecting nearly 160 million children younger than five years of age. Whilst the linkages between nutrition and stunting are well recognized, there is a need to explore environmental factors such as water and sanitation, which may influence feeding practices and result in potential infection pathways. This paper explores the linkages between stunting and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) factors in Ethiopia, which is a relatively understudied context. The research draws upon baseline data for children under the age of five from 3200 households across four regions in Ethiopia as part of a wider study and integrated program led by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Using World Health Organization (WHO) z-scoring, the average stunting rate in the sample is 47.5%. This paper also takes into account demographic and social behavioural factors such as the age, gender of children, and gender of the primary caregiver, in addition to handwashing behaviour and drinking water facilities. The evidence recommends efforts to improve handwashing behaviour for mothers and children with a focus on access to clean water. Higher stunting rates with an increase in the age of children highlight the need for continued interventions, as efforts to improve nutrition and WASH behaviours are most effective early on in promoting long-term health outcomes for children.