Hilina Enriched Foods is a long-time partner of the PlumpyField local producer network. The health crisis is now putting Ethiopia in a critical situation from a nutritional point of view. This further reinforces the company's commitment to providing the country and the region with nutritional solutions.

Questions to Hilina Belete, Managing Director of Hilina Enriched Foods

What is the impact of the crises in your country?

The disruption brought by COVID and associated measures is felt among all sectors in Ethiopia. The service sector has been hit hard and many livelihoods lost or are majorly affected. The manufacturing sector has also felt the crises in terms of disrupted supply chains, challenging logistics, and cash flow problems which has made production a struggle.

The public has felt the lost incomes and reduced livelihoods; higher food prices; and increased poverty levels. The closure of schools affected families in many ways as schools were also a source of at least one meal a day. According to UNICEF, there are other less direct ways in which the COVID-19 crisis is expected to contribute to a sharp increase in child malnutrition.

While many countries are reopening and slowly coming back, Ethiopia and the neighboring countries, are still on the “upslope” of the pandemic, with daily case counts increasing. The lengthy lockdown measures are highly damaging and will be felt for years to come.

Ethiopia was already fighting a desert locust invasion representing an unprecedented threat to food security and livelihoods as it coincided with the February – May rains and planting season.

UNICEF has reported that due to the combined effects of desert locusts, climate change, and the secondary impacts of COVID-19, UNICEF and its nutrition partners anticipate that the number of children to be treated for severe acute malnutrition in 2020 will rise by 24 percent, from the 460,000 initially planned as a target for UNICEF action (including 16,000 refugee children), to 570,000 children (of whom 18,400 are refugee children).

A rise of this magnitude could trigger a spike in child mortality, as children with severe acute malnutrition are more likely to die from infectious diseases such as measles and malaria, with malnutrition often an underlying cause.

Which specific rules did you implement in your factory?

Our team is prepared to continue working after implementing several measures.

We have started monitoring the temperature of entrants to our facility, cancelled all visits and tours to the factory, provided masks to all staff to wear at all times, implemented social distancing everywhere in the work places, cafeteria and locker rooms; increased our cleaning routines and changed to teleworking when its possible.

What do you think it can change for the future?

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed our lives, our attitudes and behaviors are changing as a result.

Once this is over, we will need to consider the impact of these changes on the way we design, communicate, build and run our businesses by increasing both resilience and responsibility.

We worry that we could see a peak in child malnutrition again. Hence, we are amplifying our commitment to do our part by adopting to changes and serving our purpose.

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