Scaling up nutrition-sensitive agriculture in Lao PDR and Vietnam


Time span of the project    2016-2020
Contact personJacqueline Broerse
Project partners
Athena Institute (VU); MCNV; National Institute of Public Health (NIOPH), Lao PDR; National Agriculture and  Forestry Research Institute (NAFRI), Lao PDR; National Nutrition Centre (NNC), Lao PDR;  Hue University of Agriculture and Forestry (HUAF), Vietnam; National Institute of Agriculture Planning and Projection (NIAPP), Vietnam; Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Institute for Community Health Research (ICHR), Vietnam 
Project sponsorNWO/WOTRO


Food insecurity and malnutrition remain persistent challenges among upland populations in Asia. Interventions are often fragmented and address immediate rather than underlying causes. 

Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture (NSA) is an inter-sectoral, multi-level food system approach maximising agriculture’s contribution to improved food security and nutrition. However, it still lacks a robust evidence-base. Building upon existing interventions in Vietnam and Lao PDR, this project generates evidence on the effectiveness of, and best way to scale-up, NSA amongst ethnic minorities in mountainous areas. It utilizes Complex Adaptive System Theory and Transition Management to analyse processes of embedding NSA interventions in food systems. 

A transdisciplinary research methodology is used to assess effectiveness and enhance adaptive and transformational capacities of studied interventions. Comparative case study analysis results in a generic framework to develop and scale-up NSA interventions in different contexts. Lessons learned advise a wide variety of stakeholders to address food security and malnutrition of vulnerable populations.

Building upon existing interventions in Vietnam and Lao PDR, this project generates evidence on the effectiveness of, and best way to scale-up, NSA amongst ethnic minorities in mountainous areas. From September 2017 to May 2018 data is collected to inform intervention selection. Data consist of literature review (ongoing), retrospective study into old/ongoing interventions in Laos and Vietnam (ongoing) and quantitative data and qualitative baseline data. Since September 2017 four PhDs have started field work (baseline data collection) in Laos and Vietnam. Quantative baseline data was collected in November and December 2017 in Laos and March 2018 in Veitnam. Data collection in Laos was led by three PhD students of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, of which two are based in Lao PDR and one in the Netherlands, together with the Nationional Institute of Public Health (Laos). In Vietnam Data collection was led by a VU PhD and staf member of MCNV in cooperation with the Hue University of Medicine and Pharmacy. Data was collected with the use of questionnaires at several levels; village, school, household. All questionnaires were validated at national level by the NIOPH and included sections that were developed, validated and standardized by international organizations (e.g. the FAO and World Food Program). In total, nine questionnaires were developed or adjusted focusing on five primary indicators: (1) production and diversity (techniques, quantities, diversity of produced foods (vegetables, fruits, livestock, fish)) using household questionnaires, (2) food intake (24 recall questionnaires), (3) nutrition literacy, (4) anthropometric data and (5) market access. Part of the validation process was pre-testing the data collection instruments, to ensure valid and reliable results.