Children living in villages where community members defecate in the open or use unhygienic sanitation facilities are on average 1.1 cm shorter than those living in villages where everybody uses improved sanitation.
Stunting makes children more vulnerable to infectious diseases and more likely to die from them, according to the recent Lao Social Indicators survey.
Stunted children are also more likely to have poorer cognitive capacities and achieve lower educational outcomes in late childhood and adolescence. They are more likely to become poorly productive adults and to be less able to contribute to their nation’s development.
To address these critical issues, SNV’s Enhancing Nutrition of Upland Farming Families (ENUFF) project is developing and applying a Community-led Total Sanitation and Nutrition (CLTSN) approach.
CLTSN is an integrated, nutrition-sensitive approach to agricultural production and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
It includes a series of Behavioural Change Communication (BCC) activities in the areas of food and body hygiene, safe faeces disposal, use of safe sources of water, infant breastfeeding, enhanced young child feeding and dietary diversity at home, and improved nutrition sensitive food production through home gardening and agro-ecological practices.
Earlier this month, 40 government staff from district health, agriculture and forestry, and Lao Women’s Union offices in four target districts Beng and Nga in Oudomxay province and Viengxay and Xiengkhor districts in Huaphan province learned about the CLTSN approach.
The project targets 4,000 farming families in 40 villages across these four districts.
Training sessions were conducted simultaneously in the two provinces by teams from the National Centre for Environmental Health and Water Supply, the Rural Development Agency and SNV.
The five-day training sessions consisted of a three-day review of the theory on BCC and CLTSN, a one-day practical application of the theory, and one day of feedback work and action plan development.
Following this training, district staff triggered demand for healthier living conditions in the 40 villages targeted by the ENUFF project.
A large number of households decided to build or improve their sanitation facilities as well as to better manage their environment. This will help to create better and more hygienic conditions for their children.
Coming next, new BCC activities will focus on the identification, operation and maintenance of safe water supply sources. Demand will thus be triggered for community leadership regarding protection of the water supply and the use of safe water for household consumption and agriculture.
Enhancing Nutrition of Upland Farming Families is an integrated, nutrition sensitive agriculture and WASH project initiated by SNV in partnership with Agrisud International and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The project is implemented together with government counterparts and other development partners with the aim to improve family and child nutrition in remote and ethnically diverse upland farming communities through nutrition-sensitive agriculture production, sustainable management of natural resources, and dissemination of good practices in health and hygiene.
Source: Vientiane Times