Frealem Shibabaw

Frealem Shibabaw

Founder and Director of the Ethiopia School Meal Initiative (ESMI)

AWiB congratulates Frealem Shibabaw, the Founder and Director of the Ethiopia School Meal Initiative (ESMI), on her nomination as one of the 10 Transform Nutrition Champions: those who have transformed thinking and action on nutrition.

Transform Nutrition is a consortium of five international research and development partners funded by the UK Department for International Development. The aim of Transform Nutrition is to transform how people think about nutrition and how they act to improve it.

The Transform Nutrition Research Program Consortium and Save the Children, every year, recognize an individual who has had significant success in transforming thinking or action on nutrition from countries with a high burden of undernutrition, who are innovating or influencing and whose work has started to make a real difference in their locality in recent years for improved nutrition. (source:

Their efforts must include:

  • Influencing the government, local authorities or an organization to take nutrition on board as a development priority
  • Improving the quality and/or scale of nutrition programs or interventions
  • Effectively promoting nutritional considerations within other sectors e.g. agriculture, social protection, water and sanitation
  • Influencing the formulation or implementation of policies or strategies so as to benefit nutrition
  • Building consensus and/or coalitions within the national or local nutrition community around a clear and consistent agenda for change
  • Mobilizing communities and/or supporting women to play an active role in influencing the policies, programs and actions to scale up nutrition

Frealem Shibabaw is the major force in mobilizing the Ethiopian Government and the International Donor Community to make the “Seqota Declaration,” a reality. “Seqota Declaration” is a national commitment to end child undernutrition in Ethiopia by 2030.  Seqota is a town that was the epicenter of the famine in 1984. The Significance of the Seqota Declaration is the determination of the stakeholders to move the nation from hopelessness to action.

Frealem asserts, supported by research, since the famine more than 30 years ago, Ethiopia has made significant progress in fighting malnutrition but there is still much to be done. One of the most urgent problems is childhood stunting. A staggering 44 percent of children in the country suffer from stunted growth with devastating physical and mental consequences that perpetuates the vicious cycle of poverty. Generation after generation, children are robbed of their potential because they can’t get access to good nutrition which takes toll on the country’s economic well-being.

The Seqota Declaration lays out a plan to stop the cycle of undernutrition by bringing together all areas of government ? a collaborative approach that can be a model for other countries. Ethiopia recognizes that it must attack the problem on many fronts, including improving agriculture, food quality and micronutrient fortification. The plan pays particular attention to the importance of nutrition in pregnancy and in the first years of a child’s life. The declaration highlights the Government’s commitment to bring the value of nutrition to the forefront of its development agenda.

Frealem is the first Ethiopian to receive this award.  She will be going to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August 2016 to take part in the publicity generated by the initiative.

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