A food-system approach to addressing food security and chronic child malnutrition in northern Vietnam

Authors

  • Cecilia Rocha Ryerson University
  • Melody Mendonça Ryerson University
  • Nguyen Do Huy National Institute of Nutrition Vietnam
  • Huỳnh Nam Phương National Institute of Nutrition Vietnam https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9883-3283
  • Do Thi Bao Hoa National Institute of Nutrition Vietnam
  • Fiona Yeudall Ryerson University
  • Andrea Moraes Ryerson University
  • Matthew Ryan Brown Ryerson University https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4256-7745
  • Yvonne V. Yuan Ryerson University
  • Thomas Tenkate Ryerson University https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4521-2045

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.019

Keywords:

Purchasing Behavior, Food Security, Food-System approach, Local Food Supply, Malnutrition, Marketing and Distribution, Nutrition Education, Public Private Partnerships, Sustainability, Vietnam

Abstract

Despite recent improvements in health, Vietnam continues to face significant problems with food security and chronic malnutrition among children. In the Northern Mountainous Region, small-scale farmers and ethnic minority groups are particularly hit hard. Anemia is present in almost half the local population of children under two, and close to 20% of children experience stunted growth. Anemia and stunting can cause irreversible deficiencies in learning and child development. Fortification of food products that are complementary to breast milk has been identified as an option to intervene and tackle chronic child malnutrition, particularly in situations requiring rapid results. Our paper describes how the ECOSUN project addressed food security and chronic child malnutrition in northern Vietnam (Lào Cai, Lai Châu, and Hà Giang provinces) using a food-system approach to design and implement a viable and sustainable value chain for fortified complementary foods. Through public-private partnerships, the project procured locally grown crops from small-scale women farmers to produce affordable fortified complementary food products in a small-scale food processing plant. Social marketing campaigns and nutrition education counseling centers supported product distribution through local vendors while emphasizing and promoting the value of fortified foods for healthy child development. The ECOSUN project also aimed to contribute to the broader goal of transforming the local economy. The process, lessons, challenges, successes, and methods employed to assess and test the delivery mechanisms of the project can offer insights to researchers, program implementers, and decision-makers involved in research-integrated development projects embedded in local socio-ecological systems. 

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Author Biographies

Cecilia Rocha, Ryerson University

Professor, School of Nutrition, and member, Centre for Studies in Food Security

Melody Mendonça, Ryerson University

ECOSUN Project Coordinator, Centre for Studies in Food Security

Nguyen Do Huy, National Institute of Nutrition Vietnam

MD; Director, Food and Nutrition Training Center

Huỳnh Nam Phương, National Institute of Nutrition Vietnam

MD; Deputy Director, Food and Nutrition Training Center

Do Thi Bao Hoa, National Institute of Nutrition Vietnam

Head of Food Science and Technology Service Center (NINFOOD)

Fiona Yeudall, Ryerson University

Director and Associate Professor, School of Nutrition

Andrea Moraes, Ryerson University

Contract Lecturer, School of Nutrition and G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education

Matthew Ryan Brown, Ryerson University

ECOSUN Research Coordinator, Center for Studies in Food Security

Yvonne V. Yuan, Ryerson University

Associate Professor, School of Nutrition

Thomas Tenkate, Ryerson University

Associate Professor, School of Occupational and Public Health

Published

2022-09-20

How to Cite

Rocha, C., Mendonça, M., Nguyen, D. H. ., Huỳnh, N. P., Do, T. B. H., Yeudall, F., Moraes, A., Brown, M., Yuan, Y., & Tenkate, T. (2022). A food-system approach to addressing food security and chronic child malnutrition in northern Vietnam. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 11(4), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2022.114.019