In rural areas of Lao PDR, children living in villages where community members defecate in...Read more
Despite steady economic growth, Laos remains a low-income food-deficit country with alarming levels of malnutrition. Nationally, this contributes to stunting of 44% in children under five—the highest in Southeast Asia.
The rural uplands are most affected by chronic malnutrition (51.4% of stunting) due to factors including remoteness, cultural practices, and limited access to productive agricultural land. As a result, these communities have low access to and utilisation of basic health care services and farming extension support, which perpetuates the cycle of inadequate feeding practices, poor sanitation and hygiene behaviours, and environmentally unsustainable shifting cultivation practices.
We are initiating an innovative and scalable new project, “Enhancing Nutrition for Upland Farming Families,” (ENUFF) combining aspects of nutrition sensitive agriculture, water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, governance, gender, and social inclusion.
The aim of the project is to improve family nutrition in remote and ethnically diverse upland farming communities through nutrition-sensitive agriculture production, sustainable management of natural resources and enhancement of good practices in health and hygiene. ENUFF plans to achieve improved nutrition by working on four integrated areas: 1) demand creation; 2) behavioural change; 3) increased supply of nutritious foods; and 4) governance.
The project approach works to increase local capacity to trigger demand for nutritious food consumption at the household level; while also supporting smallholder farmers to increase supply of nutritious foods. The ENUFF intervention engages both men and women to address intra-household decision-making on food production, consumption, and access to productive assets. Our approach also strongly emphasises communications strategies to reach previously marginalised ethnic minority communities. The approach aims to strengthen multi-sectoral committees supporting convergent planning at village level, while facilitating community efforts to improve household practices and knowledge on nutrition and sustainable agriculture. To ensure sustainable outcomes, national and local governance capacity will also be strengthened.