News

Project kicks off to increase access to and awareness of nutritious food in Lao PDR

Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Programme (NUSAP) Launch

In poor, rural areas, parents attend to farming early and often don’t have time to prepare meals for their children to take to school. Photo: @Bart Verweij / World Bank.

The newly launched four-year Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Programme will play a key role in the fight against stunting, wasting, and their root cause: malnutrition.

October 4, 2018

This past week saw the launch of the Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Project (NUSAP) in Lao PDR’s capital, Vientiane. The project aims to improve the nutritional status of rural populations, particularly children and pregnant/lactating women, by increasing local availability and access to nutritious food in parallel with fostering behavioural change. As implementing lead, NIRAS facilitated discussions among stakeholders and partners from national and provincial levels around the project objectives, design, and tentative work plans.

Malnutrition rates in the northern provinces of Lao PDR are high, affecting close to half of all children under five years of age. According to the latest national study, the rate of stunting – a condition caused by malnutrition – is 33% of the national population, 37% in rural areas, and 43% in remote rural areas. The main underlying causes include lack of nutritional awareness, shortage of diverse foods throughout the year, and poor accessibility to healthy diets due to low incomes. The Government of Lao PDR prioritised the fight against malnutrition with the adoption of its National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action 2016–2025 (NNSPA). In 2016, the European Union signed a partnership valued at EUR 50 million to support NNSPA. Under this agreement, NIRAS provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in implementing NUSAP.

Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture Programme (NUSAP) Launch

Jointly funded by the EU and the French Development Agency, the EUR 5.7-million programme seeks to mainstream nutrition-sensitive approaches in agricultural extension services and strengthen nutritional awareness among the rural population, particularly pregnant and lactating women.

The project will be implemented in four northern provinces: seven districts in Luang Prabang, two in Phongsaly, and one each in Huaphan and Luang Namtha. From 2018 to the end of 2019, the project will run exclusively in Luang Prabang province before being rolled out to the rest of the districts.

Throughout the project’s four-year duration, NIRAS will work with ministry staff to facilitate participatory planning of NUSAP activities at the village level, establish village banking schemes to support nutrition-sensitive agricultural activities (for example home gardens and the processing and conservation of nutritious food), and strengthen nutrition focus groups where the linkages between agriculture, nutrition, and natural resources are discussed. Furthermore, NIRAS will provide continuous mentoring to ministry staff in the key aspects of programme management.

Improving knowledge about nutrition and enabling people to grow and actually eat more nutritious food is very challenging in remote areas. We believe that district agriculture officers are key players to achieve this objective in a cost-effective and sustainable way.

AFD Representative in Laos, Mr Matthieu Bommier.

Facts

Total funding: EUR 5,700,000

Project value: EUR 1,580,020

Donor: The European Union (EUR 4.7M) and the French Agency for Development (AFD) (EUR 1M)

Client: Lao PDR Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Department of Planning and Finance

Duration: August 2018 – July 2022

44 %

Percentage of children below 5 years affected by chronic malnutrition

Jonas Novén

Jonas Novén

Project Manager

Stockholm, Sweden

+46 8 588 318 04

Kristina Mastroianni

Kristina Mastroianni

Technical Director

Stockholm, Sweden

+46 8 545 533 32