Food security status and vulnerability to anemia among women of reproductive age in pastoralist communities of Somali regional state, Ethiopia: a comparative, community-based, cross-sectional study


  • Sahardiid Ali
  • Jemal Haidar



Background: Although the impact of food insecurity and anemia has been shown to be more common among women of reproductive age, there is little information available on the issue in relation to women in Fafan Zone, Somali Region, Ethiopia.
Objectives: To compare the levels of anemia among women of reproductive age in food-secure versus food-insecure households in Fafan Zone.

Methods: A community-based, cross-sectional study design was employed in rural Ethiopia from February to April 2017. In total, 142 women from food-insecure households and 287 women from food-secure households were recruited and their levels of anemia were measured using a HemoCue spectrophotometer, and then compared. Food insecurity was measured using a modified household food insecurity access scale. Data were entered using Epi data 3.1 and analyzed using Stata version 14.0. Bivariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses with 95% confidence intervals were used to examine the association between anemia and food security. A p-value of less than 0.05 was statistically significant.

Results: The prevalence of anemia among women in food-insecure households was 79.53% and ranged from 42.0% to 90.0%; among women in food-secure households, the prevalence was 20.47% and ranged from 12% to 34%. The observed difference between Food Security (FS) and Food Insecurity (FI) was statistically significant indicating a correlation between the two groups. Women who reported food insecurity were about 1.4 times more likely to suffer from anemia than their food-secure counterparts (AOR=1.4; 95% CI=1.02-2.10).

Conclusions and recommendations: It appears that four in five women in food-insecure households had anemia, and that there was an overall positive relationship between food insecurity and anemia. To address the level of anemia in food-insecure households, more nutritional support is required, in addition to implementing a poverty alleviation program and weekly iron folic acid supplementation. . [Ethiop.J. Health Dev. 2019; 33(1):28-37]

Key words: Food insecurity, anemia in women, Somali Region, Ethiopia