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Improving food security in the northern uplands of Lao PDR: identifying drivers and overcoming barriers

This project aims to identify the drivers of food insecurity in the Northern Uplands of Lao PDR and to provide evidence that can guide the scaling-up of interventions aimed at improving food security status of vulnerable households.
The prevalence of food insecurity in Lao PDR remains largely unchanged, despite strong economic growth and reductions in poverty during the last decade.
22% of the population was deemed food insecure in 2007-08, down only 1% from 2002-03. Food insecurity is especially prevalent in the uplands and in the North of Lao PDR. The lack of relation between economic growth and food security drives this research.
The drivers of food insecurity are largely unknown. How policy priorities to promote commercial agriculture will affect smallholders' traditional food security strategies is also unknown. These gaps in knowledge make it difficult to define interventions that work-the link between economic development and improvements in food security.
This project proceeds in two steps. A diagnostic phase, during the first two years, will identify the past drivers of food security (and its dynamics) and constraints and opportunities to improvements in food security. The second phase will trial pilot interventions aimed at improving food security at a household level and evaluate their effect.