Nutrition is an integral part to providing comprehensive cleft care in Ethiopia. As well as delivering immediate vital support to children with cleft who are at risk from malnutrition, our new nutritional support programme includes raising awareness about the importance of a varied and nutritious diet.

The traditional Ethiopian diet - although products range from region to region - is rich in nutrients, however, in rural areas there are often environmental, social and economic factors, that cause food insecurity. For example, flooding and drought can lead to crop destruction and although a large portion of the populations lively hoods are built on agriculture, families who are experiencing economic hardships are sometimes inclined to sell the majority of their produce on, meaning their diets can become scarce and limited. 



For a child born with a cleft lip and palate, nutrition is vital. Children with cleft often experience difficulty with breast feeding, because of the incomplete mouth seal which makes it difficult to latch on, a cleft palate can also mean liquid or solid food can be rejected through the nose. Before a child receives surgery they need to meet the required health state and their nutrition needs to be optimised before and after surgery for a healthy recovery.

Project Harar work with rural communities to provide training to multidisciplinary health workers about nutrition.

Exploring traditional foods in Ethiopia

At the beginning of the month Ababo and Saron - our new interns in the Project Harar Addis Ababa office - created a piece about traditional foods in Ethiopia, produce availability and nutritional value.

First in the series, we're delving into the Teff production industry...

Teff

This week we were able to visit market places in Addis Ababa to write about traditional food in Ethiopia. Though the traditional foods vary from region to region there are many common foods that are consumed across the country. First up, we looked at Teff, its nutritional value and how it is produced. 

When we think about traditional Ethiopian food the first thing that comes to our mind is Teff. Teff (Eragrostis tef) is an ancient tropical cereal that has its center of origin and diversity in the northern Ethiopian highlands from where it is believed to have been domesticated (Ketema 1997; Demissie 2001).

According to Ethiopia, CSA (2013). Agricultural Sample Survey 2012/2013: Report on Area and Production of Major Crops. Teff cereal crops grown on 71% of the total area cultivated and about 61% of total agricultural production shared.



(Picture of teff crop before harvest in Addis Ababa)

Teff is mainly used to make injera, a traditional fermented Ethiopian pancake that is consumed by majority of the population daily. Other food items that are made from teff are porridge, bread - such as anebabiro and other local cultural foods such as chechebsa - which is very common in the Oromia Region. Chechebsa is a lightly fried injera or other bread cooked in berbere sauce and is sometimes served with honey. 

There are different types of Teff depending on the color of the grains varying from white (ivory) to dark brown (black).

Various  studies  have confirmed the excellent nutrient composition of Teff and according to the Washington post (Elaine Gordon 2014) One serving of dry teff (a quarter-cup) offers 7 grams of protein, 4 grams of dietary fiber, 25 percent of our daily recommended magnesium, 20 percent of our daily iron and 10 percent of our daily calcium, Vitamin B6 and zinc. Also a research done by (Kaleab Belay; 2014) mentions health benefits of Teff consumption on the management and prevention of diabetes, iron deficiency and celiac disease.   

Teff is mainly used in making injera, injera is made by mixing cereal flour with water to make dough and then triggering the fermentation process by inoculating with ersho, a starter obtained from previous fermentations. The fermentation lasts on average 2-3 days, after which the dough is thinned into a batter before steam baking.

The process of making Injera from Teff

As mentioned earlier injera is made by mixing cereal flour with water to make dough and then triggering the fermentation process by inoculating with yeast, a starter obtained from previous fermentations. The fermentation lasts on average 2-3 days, after which the dough is thinned into a batter before steam baking.

Before the process of making the injera the teff grains are purchased at the local markets. Here the grains will be purchased, cleaned and converted to a flour form to make injera.


Photos and Article by Saron C. and Ababo W.