The IFAD funded Soum Son Seun Jai (SSSJ) Programme, which is co-funded by the Luxembourg Government through LAO/026 project, aims at contributing to the reduction of extreme poverty and hunger in two provinces in Laos targeting 17.000 poor rural households living in 225 target villages.
The programme has recently launched an innovative video series linking agriculture and nutrition. These series allow the programme to scale up the support to its nutrition sensitive interventions by reaching out to a large number of poor households in a consistent and efficient manner using broadcasting technology.
Currently, every second child in the rural areas in Laos is severely malnourished or stunted. Malnutrition rates are particularly high among the SSSJ target group living in remote rural areas and ethnic minority communities. Nutrition education is crucial in fighting the current epidemic malnutrition. However, in the past the effectiveness of nutrition education in Laos was limited because of a lack of appealing educational materials that are available in local languages. The SSSJ-LAO/026 project has responded to this need by developing an innovative video tool kit that emphasizes on key messages customized to remote and rural areas. The video tool kit is made available in local languages like Lao, Hmong and Khamu. LAO/026 project has co-financed the production, particularly in making the videos available in local languages. Moreover, LAO/026 advisers have been instrumental in providing technical advice and in facilitating the shooting and production of the video series.
The series contain 12 short videos that all address specific themes regarding nutrition, from food production to consumption. Various agricultural production topics such as chicken raising, fish raising, vegetable production are covered. A particular note is also made regarding the availability of healthy and nutritious food from the wild. Production oriented messages are merged with messages that encourage consumption of healthy food instead of instant food readily available on the market. The videos also provide dietary recommendations and nutritious recipes for homemade dishes. As only showing/viewing the videos will not be sufficient to create behavioral change among the targeted groups, additional materials like discussion guidelines and posters are developed to facilitate focused discussions and dialogue with villagers to better understand the problem and raise their awareness to hopefully change to a more healthy diet. The complete package is broadly distributed and enthusiastically received by other organizations and already used by UNICEF, the World Food Programme, the Food and Agricultural Organization and non-governmental organization like Care and Plan International.
In order for the messages to appeal to rural villagers and not be another “boring extension message”, the videos are packaged into a rural soap opera that plays in one of the project target villages.
There are Phone and Xay who secretly fall in love; a grumpy grandmother who wants everything the way it was, because she is fond of the saying “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”; a clever husband who learns from his daughter to pick nutritious wild foods and build up his physical strength by eating healthy food. There is Noy, a health volunteer and wonderful cook, who is advising pregnant and breast feeding friends. Absolute star of the series is the little Sonephet who, after a delicious homemade bean snack, scored a goal against the Lao national soccer team.
All actors are villagers from SSSJ target villages, increasing the real life appearance and making it easier for rural people to identify with the messages the series want to share.
The videos (Lao version with English sub-titles) are uploaded on YouTube and can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeO0-UIO6Q-76Z58Pv9XGTKct-fC-oOS8
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