PRESAN Project - Strengthening Food and Nutritional Security of Vulnerable Populations in Phongsaly and Luang Namtha Provinces.
Despite the country's economic growth and poverty reduction at the national level, people living in the mountain areas of northern Laos are still experiencing greater poverty than other parts of the country, with rates also clearly below the overall average in terms of education, nutritional status, access to drinking water and sanitation. Rates of chronic malnutrition (stunting and underweight) remain very high in these areas with about 15% of children born underweight, 44% of children under 5 years of age who are stunted and 30% of children underweight. % of children who are underweight at age two. Geographical disparities in nutrition remain striking: 61.6% of children in Phongsaly and 53.2% of children in Luang Namtha are stunted compared to 19% of children in Vientiane.
Issues to which this action wishes to respond:
Limited knowledge about nutrition and a lack of diversified and nutritious food: stunting problems come mainly from a lack of nutrient intake in the mothers' diets during pregnancy and breastfeeding and in feeding children before their two years. The dietary diversity enjoyed by many women and their families should not be confused with nutritional balance: low levels of protein and fat in diets is problematic, especially for pregnant women.
Weakness of water and sanitation infrastructure and lack of knowledge on hygiene and health practices: WHO estimates that 50% of malnutrition problems in Laos are related to chronic diarrhea and intestinal infections due to non-water consumption. drinking and lack of sanitation and hygiene. At the same time, undernutrition increases diarrhea and thus increases mortality rates. In the province of Phongsaly, open defecation is prevalent in 61.8% of villages and only 74.7% of households benefit from improved sources of drinking water.
Degradation of natural resources: in the mountainous areas of northern Laos, populations are increasingly affected by erosion and soil deterioration due to the development of commercial crops and plantations, deforestation linked to commercial activity or even contamination of groundwater and watercourses due to the increasing use of chemical inputs for commercial agriculture. These current developments clearly have an impact on the availability of natural resources and consequently on the livelihoods and health of mountain people.
Inadequate government and civil society support: While the National Multisectoral Action Plan on Food and Nutritional Security places nutrition as a top priority, provincial and district authorities lack the resources and expertise to respond the challenges that communities face in terms of nutrition security. So far, local authorities have no or very few staff who speak local languages and lack the resources and knowledge to provide quality information and services to farmers. In addition, civil society organizations often have little or no technical support in remote areas and limited capacity to engage in political dialogue.
Gender Inequality: In most of the ethnic minorities found in the northern highland areas of Laos, women experience a lack of access to education, are less likely to speak or write the Lao language and therefore are more likely to often excluded from access to information such as nutrition or agricultural innovations. In addition, there are now several elements of analysis showing a clear correlation between gender inequality and food and nutritional insecurity. Therefore, strengthening women's skills and decision-making at the community level can help reduce the food and nutrition security challenges they face.
2. Beneficiaries & location of the project
The target populations for the project are families from mountain ethnic minorities in Phongsaly and Luang Namtha provinces. Specifically, the project is expected to benefit the residents of fifty (50) villages in five (05) districts - Nyot Ou, May and Samphan in Phongsaly and Sing and Long in Luang Namtha Province. In total about 5000 families are expected to benefit directly from the project activities. The indirect beneficiaries are the populations of the five (05) districts targeted by the action, namely 138,000 inhabitants.
3. Project Objectives
Overall objective: The food and nutrition security of ethnic populations, especially women and children, is strengthened.
Specific objective 1: The nutritional and health status of ethnic populations, particularly women and children, is improved.
Specific objective 2: Local resources are valued and preserved through agro-ecological, sustainable and productive practices.
Specific objective 3: Local authorities and civil society organizations are capable and committed to implementing multi-sectoral approaches to improve food and nutrition security.
4. Duration of the project
The project is implemented since February 2016 and will end in January 2020.
5. Project Partners
The project is implemented in partnership with the NGO CARE Laos and two local associations; SAEDA (Sustainable Agriculture and Environment Development Association) specialist in training with authorities and local communities on SRI techniques, organic gardening, awareness of the risks associated with the use of pesticides and training in the principles of nutrition and structuring of peasant groups, and the Rural Development Agency (RDA), which has developed significant expertise for community engagement and mobilization on sanitation and hygiene issues.