Agriculture and nutrition are closely linked and when one is lacking, the other tends to suffer as well, especially in developing countries. In conjunction with other agricultural and food production goals, the Ethiopian government introduced the National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) in 2008 to help address the issue of food security in the country. As a Fall 2015 Borlaug LEAP fellow, Debebe Moges Moshago studied how some of the messages this program are impacting their target populations. Malnutrition remains one of the biggest health concerns in developing countries like Ethiopia, especially among women and young children. He looked specifically at the “Implications of Caring Practices and Household Food Insecurity on the Nutritional Status, Growth, and Development of Infants in Nutrition Sensitive Intervention Areas in Southwestern Ethiopia”, in order to help inform the national health agencies on the effectiveness of the programs and perhaps provide improvement suggestions.
Debebe has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Biology and a Master’s in Applied Nutrition, both from Hawassa University in Ethiopia. As a part of his studies and his work, he has had the opportunity to collaborate with people in Canada and the US. He has served as the Human Nutrition Graduate Program coordinator at Hawassa University in addition to being a lecturer and researcher for that department. Debebe wants to use his influence as someone in a position in leadership to help guide those interested in helping bring about change in Ethiopia. He states that in his home country, being a leader is traditionally seen as being higher or above others, literally: those that are older, taller, and/or the firstborn tend to been looked to as leaders, whether or not they have the ability to lead. As he gains more experience, Debebe has discovered that these are not necessarily the traits that make a leader. He wants to not only use what he has already learned from his previous mentors, but also use what he gained during his Borlaug LEAP fellowship to enhance his leadership skills.
While in the US, Debebe collaborated with Dr. Barbara Stoecker, a professor at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Stoecker has years of experience working in the nutrition field and mentoring graduate students, including a recent Borlaug LEAP alumnus. She makes frequent trips to Ethiopia and is well acquainted with the nutrition work going on over there. She helped Debebe analyze and interpret his data, along with guiding him in writing his dissertation. In addition, Debebe was mentored by CIMMYT researcher Dr. Moti Jaleta. Dr. Jaleta is an agricultural economist who recently co-authored a paper on the nutritional impacts of improved maize varieties in Ethiopian children and he helped Debebe with his data collection in the study sites. Debebe is on track to complete his PhD in July 2017.