Open proposals

Scaling-up nutrition-sensitive agricultural initiatives in poor mountainous areas in Lao PDR andVietnam

Date of issuance: May 2017

The Athena Institute (VU) is looking for two motivated and independent students who would like to contribute, through their Master’s thesis, to the research conducted within the framework of the NWO-WOTRO project “Scaling-up nutrition-sensitive agricultural initiatives in poor mountainous areas in Lao PDR and Vietnam”. This project aims to generate evidence on the effectiveness of nutrition-sensitive agriculture interventions in order to contribute to improved food security, reduced malnutrition and poverty in the above-mentioned countries.

Background: Food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty remain persistent challenges among the upland populations in Lao PDR and Vietnam. 12% of children are undernourished in Vietnam, whereas in Lao PDR 40% of children are  stunted. Limited local production and limited access to markets are some of the key underlying factors explaining the vicious cycle that links food insecurity, malnutrition and poverty in those areas. Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) - an inter-sectoral, multi-level food system approach maximising agriculture’s contribution to improved food security and nutrition - may help breaking the vicious cycle.

Your research: You will conduct  a retrospective analysis of past experiences in the field of Nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA) with a focus on Vietnam. The Medical Committee Netherlands Vietnam (MCNV), our counterpart in the NSA project,  has been active in the field of (nutrition-sensitive) agriculture for over 10 years  in Khanh Vinh district  (Khanh Hoa province) Vietnam. In order to draw (and build on) lessons learnt, a systematic analysis of past experiences is required. The retrospective analysis will entail collection of both primary and secondary data in different fields: nutrition, health, food security, agriculture, poverty, etc. It will be a combination of desk work (review of scientific articles as well as review of evaluation reports, field visit reports and other grey literature) and participatory field work (interviews).

The two students are expected to jointly design the study in collaboration with the project team members from The Netherlands and Vietnam. After completion of the study design, the two students will conduct their field work in Vietnam. The start date for this study is flexible (February/April).
Students applying for this research opportunity should have the following skills / personal characteristics: adaptability  and cultural sensitivity, resourcefulness and problem-solving skills, inquisitive nature, professional and independent attitude, good communication and writing skills in English. A study/ research experience abroad (especially if in a LMIC) will be an additional strength.  Students with knowledge on either agriculture, nutrition or access to food markets are preferred.

For more information, please contact Dirk Essink