Launch of the Scaling-up Nutrition-Sensitive Agriculture project
In the week of March 20, 2017, the NWO-WOTRO funded Global Challenges Programme (GCP) project “Scaling-up nutrition-sensitive agriculture” was officially launched in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The launch was hosted by one of the consortium members, the National Institute of Public Health (NIOPH), and saw the involvement of a number of partners (NNC, NAFRI, MCNV, ICHR) and stakeholders from both project countries Lao PDR and Vietnam. The main objectives of this event were to develop a shared understanding of the project, discuss expectations and make a joint plan of activities.
The kick-off week was structured in three parts. The first two days were devoted to the training of the core team: country coordinators, action researchers and the four selected PhDs (two based in Lao PDR, one based in Vietnam and one based in the Netherlands). The training covered a number of topics: transdisciplinary research, interactive learning and action (ILA) approach, reflexive monitoring, system innovation and transition theory. Capacity building was also an important aspect of the official kick-off event held on the third day.
Key insights on transdisciplinary research and the ILA approach were also shared with the broader group of stakeholders present at the event, such as the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) Alliance, Savanakhet provincial Health Department, Nong district Women’s Union. The kick-off event offered a valuable opportunity for them to get familiar with the project (objectives, planned activities and expected impacts), share their experiences in the field of nutrition-sensitive agriculture (NSA), but also formulate expectations, challenges and suggestions in relation to the project. The theory of change developed for the project was also jointly reviewed and suggestions made for the implementation of the activities. For some of the stakeholders this was partly a refresher. In fact, they had already been involved in the stakeholder workshops held by the project in the proposal development phase. There a preliminary problem analysis and a stakeholder mapping according to their level of alignment and interest in NSA (AIIM matrix) had been developed. Building on the knowledge shared in these past exercises, during the kick-off event the stakeholders and the project team worked together on a system analysis for the selected study area in Lao PDR. In the last two days of the kick-off week, the project core team worked more in-depth on the planning of the first year activities including the PhDs research design, the retrospective studies and the baseline in both countries.
The work has started with much enthusiasm and commitment of all parties. During the next four years, the team aims, through its transdisciplinary research, to generate evidence on the effectiveness of, and best way to scale-up NSA amongst ethnic minorities in mountainous areas. The NSA-project will build on past experiences of the Medical Committee Netherlands-Vietnam (MCNV) projects, and team up with the newly started CANTEEN and AFAS projects. These are managed by MCNV. The research will be carried out in collaboration with partners from Lao PDR (NIOPH, NAFRI, NNC) and Vietnam (HUAF, ICHR, NIAPP) under the scientific supervision of the Athena Institute of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and with cross-country facilitation by (MCNV).