Tuesday, 19 February 2013

LANSA, working to improve nutrition through agriculture in South Asia

By Stuart Gillespie

​Despite rapid economic growth, undernutrition rates in South Asia remain among the highest in the world. Ensuring nutrition security in the region can only occur through a combination of nutrition-specific interventions and more distal ‘nutrition-sensitive” interventions and approaches, such as broad based agricultural growth. The key conceptual linkages and pathways between agriculture and nutrition are well known. Given that agriculture remains the primary source of livelihood of half of the region’s population, it has the potential to be a strong driver of nutrition in South Asia.

But recent evidence points to an apparent disconnect. Agricultural growth, which itself is slowing, is simply not doing enough for nutrition. Against this backdrop, the newly launched Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) research programme seeks to address the core question: “How can South Asian agriculture and related food policies and interventions be designed and implemented to increase their impacts on nutrition, especially the nutritional status of children and adolescent girls?”

copyright Stuart Gillespie
LANSA is a partnership of six organizations working in four focal countries (India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan) on three streams of research, capacity strengthening and policy influence. We have just spent an intense week refining our research plans and coordinating our capacity strengthening and policy influence strategies. The programme has been funded by the UK Government for six years. Led by the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in India, partners include: BRAC (Bangladesh), Collective for Social Science Research (Pakistan), Institute of Development Studies (UK), International Food Policy Research Institute (USA) and the Leverhulme Centre for Integrative Research on Agriculture and Health (UK).

Aligned with the fundamental, underlying and immediate determinants of undernutrition, the three research streams will address several key questions. First, how can agriculture and food policies be more strongly linked to other underlying determinants of nutrition such as women's status, poverty induced food insecurity and sanitation? Second, how can we make agricultural growth strategies, broad policies in areas such as food storage and trade, and public-private engagement more likely to reduce undernutrition? Third, how can agricultural interventions be designed to improve diet quality and improve nutrition directly, whilst ensuring livelihood security?

For more information please see the LANSA project page.

This blog post first appeared on SecureNutrition's blog.