Background: The magnitude of malnutrition, including kwashiorkor and marasmus are high in the rural areas of Ethiopia. The aim of this qualitative study is to explore barriers to food security and access to healthcare in under 5-year old’s displaying kwashiorkor or marasmus in Ameya, Ethiopia.
Method: Thematic analysis was used in this research. Data collection involved: researchers’ observations, one-on-one interviews, group discussion and in-depth interviews with key stakeholders.
Results: The main themes that emerged were behavioural and environmental. The behavioural aspect involved, feeding practices, water and food storage, coping strategies, illness, father’s involvement and PHW perceptions. While environmental aspects were socio-economic status, community infrastructure, access to market, market food diversity, market environment and cost of healthcare.
Conclusion: Children in Ameya are lacking nutritious foods due to food costs, unavailability of diverse food crops at the market, poor farming yields, while unsanitary marketplaces and contaminated water sources cause diarrhoea and malabsorption in children. Long term solutions include training community HWs in diagnosing and treating common diseases and providing adequate medications, while new nutritious food crops should be introduced into the farming community at a low price. Long term interventions that provide numerous safe water systems in the community can also reduce the risk of diarrhoea and malabsorption. Introducing diverse food crops and safe water systems can act as a protective mechanism against malnutrition and will not only aid in reaching SDG2 but can promote healthy lives (SDG 3) and help end poverty (SDG1) since children grow to their full potential.