Briefing Paper: Nutrition-Sensitive Agricultural Development. Case studies of Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Timor-Leste

Briefing Paper: Nutrition-Sensitive Agricultural Development. Case studies of Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Timor-Leste

This briefing paper explores the relationship between nutrition-sensitive policies and agricultural development, and is informed by the livelihoods approach, malnutrition dynamics and governance concerns. It reviews four countries in Southeast Asia - Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Timor-Leste - to illustrate the connections between agriculture, food security and nutrition. These case studies also map the policy environment, coordinating mechanisms and key stakeholders for each country in order to provide background information for future research on nutrition-sensitive development and cross-sectoral collaborations.

Nutrition-sensitive agricultural development aims to achieve nutrition outcomes through agricultural
development interventions, an approach that requires multisectoral collaboration and is supported by global
initiatives such as the Scaling Up Nutrition movement. By enhancing the nutrition sensitivity of agricultural and
livestock programmes, the intention is to reduce child and maternal malnutrition of rural populations in
developing countries, whose livelihoods are generally based on agriculture and who suffer the highest levels of
poverty, malnutrition and food insecurity. Evidence from the Lancet series 2008 and 2013 highlights the
cruciality to address the nutrition status of women and children, particularly during the 1,000 days of
opportunity, in order to insure a healthy, vibrant and productive population. Nutrition-sensitive interventions
focus on addressing the underlying determinants of nutrition through other sectors, such as agriculture, in a
targeted and cross-sectoral manner. The nutrition sensitivity of agriculture development requires further
research as its effectiveness remains inconclusive due to poor evaluation design, indicating a strong need for
research with explicit nutrition objectives and indicators. However, clear pathways and guiding principles have
been identified to articulate the links between agriculture and nutritional outcomes, most of which emphasise
the crucial role of women as key mediators of family health. To sustainably accelerate the reduction of
undernutrition through a nutrition-sensitive approach, aligned national policy frameworks and multi-sectoral
coordination mechanisms across ministries are vital, for which effective leadership and enabling environments
are required.

Gianna Bonis-Profumo's picture
Gianna Bonis-Profumo
PhD Candidate