A cross-sectoral approach to improving nutrition for families in Northern Lao PDR

December 2016

News

Baseline anthropometric measurements of children under five (CU5) in 40 target villages of Houaphanh and Oudomxay provinces show an overall underweight prevalence of 28.6%. Looking at child feeding practices, most CU5 of the target villages receive a minimum of 3 meals per day, but children’s dietary diversity is still low. Significantly, only 2% of women were able to report about negative impacts of malnutrition during pregnancy.

Conventionally, nutrition projects have focussed on educating households about a balanced diet, and different kinds of food that are safe and nutritious for their families and how to prepare them. This singular approach, however, assumes that families have access to nutritious food or can grow these foods on their own, which is not always the case.

The Enhancing Nutrition of Upland Farming Families project (ENUFF) is housed in three sectors in order to address the multifaceted challenge of providing nutritious food for children in northern Laos. Through the Water and Sanitation sector, the project seeks to improve household access to sanitation facilities and clean water for gardening and household consumption; through the Agriculture sector, the project seeks to helps families to grow more nutritious crops; and through the Nutrition sector, the project provides training on food preparation and cooking classes. The project is initiated by SNV in partnership with Agrisud International, and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The project is implemented together with government counterparts and other development partners.

In October and November, 45 district staff (20 females) received a series of Behavioural Change Communication (BCC) and technical trainings: (1) operation and maintenance of safe water supply sources, (2) home gardening and (3) basic nutrition and child feeding practices. Following these trainings, more than 3490 people and 1437 women gained knowledge on basic nutrition and child feeding practices and ~300 children benefited from cooking demonstration on food safety. 200 households in target villages gained knowledge and received vegetable seeds from organic home gardening activities. This aims to improve the food available at home.

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Through cross-sectoral BCC approaches, ENUFF plans for more awareness-raising and capacity building of caretakers and women in general appears key to changing hygiene and child feeding practices for the next coming year.

SNV’s Enhancing Nutrition of Upland Farming Families (ENUFF) project continues awareness raising and capacity building among women and mothers/caretakers of young children on basic nutrition, food safety and child feeding practices. The project also aims to create a healthier enabling environment by triggering villagers to improve their sanitation situation and the functionality of water supply systems. This is to help them have a safe environment as well as enough and safe water for consumption and home gardening. This way, families will have safety food to consume daily. 

Expert

Ranjan Shrestha

Chief Technical Advisor & Programme Manager - ENUFF