Household food security for nutrition improvement in Vietnam

faofs-vietnamThe "Household Food Security for Nutrition Improvement Project" in Vietnam integrated nutrition education with the introduction of small-scale agricultural technology to food-insecure households with malnourished children. The strategy was to give trainings for the setting up of low-cost and simple home gardens as well as providing small grants to selected households.

Title: "Household Food Security for Nutrition Improvement Project (HFSNIP)"

Country: Vietnam

Organizations: Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), in collaboration with the National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Theme: Food Security

Overview of activities: The project was set up in 1997 in eight Vietnam provinces focusing on the establishment of home gardens and feeding of malnourished children. Poor households with at least one young malnourished child were identified and monitored. In addition, community workers and district-, province- and national-level staff from the agriculture and health ministries and the women's union were trained. Limited incentives were also given to commune networks.

Baseline and follow-up surveys were conducted after a seven-month interval in 1999. In addition, monthly growth monitoring of 40 children from target households in the project communes and 20 children in a control commune was done. In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with care givers to determine the degree of malnutrition, the frequency of feeding, the food products given, changes in feeding practices, awareness of nutritional status and weight of the children, understanding of tools and appreciation of what constitutes a nutritious meal.

Methodology: The project established province and district teams drawn from existing government staff and provided them with additional specialist training and very limited incentives. Through trainings and workshops, agriculture and health workers from different levels and the women's union were able to strengthen partnerships and network among themselves. These provided venues for the participants to share their experiences and exchange information.

The baseline data collected for the project was relevant as it gave the project leaders a start-off point to measure if indeed there are changes in the mothers' knowledge of nutrition and dietary practices and if this translates to better nourishment for the children. The use of monthly cooking demonstrations served as one of the unique learning experiences for the mothers regarding nutritious food and home gardening. The importance of using the growth chart to empower mothers to maintain good nutritional status in their children and to prevent growth retardation was also emphasized in this project.

Major outcomes/impact: There were improvements in child carers' knowledge and children's growth status. It was found that when the households understood the nutritional and economic benefits of home gardening, the impact of establishing and utilizing productive home gardens was larger. These efforts gave the household members a sense of being involved in a programme and an incentive to improve child feeding practices.

Contact: Kristien Vliegen, Technical Officer for the Household Food Security for Nutrition Improvement Project - hfsnip@netnam.org.vn

The project report is available here