Fighting hunger through the mapping of key food systems indicators in the 1000 poorest communes of Vietnam

Fighting hunger through the mapping of key food systems indicators in the 1000 poorest communes of Vietnam

Vietnam’s economy has been rapidly growing since the economic reforms of the late seventies known as Doi Moi. This drastic growth has increased food security and nutrition for many, but not for all of the population. For many in rural regions, continued undernourishment still results in stunting and wasting.

Blogpost by: Huong Trinh, Erin Esaryk & Huynh Tuyen

Vietnam’s government has made a formal and ambitious commitment to improve the health and nutrition of the poorest households. In 2012, the United Nations (UN) launched a “Zero Hunger” initiative, established as the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 2): End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. In June 2018, the Government issued a National Action Program for ‘Zero Hunger” in Vietnam. The targets of this action program include reducing malnutrition in children under two by 20% and reducing the proportion of children under two underweight from malnutrition to under 5% nationally. Vietnam’s Zero Hunger Initiative aims to achieve these goals by 2025.

In order to do so, government agencies of Vietnam will implement programs aimed at improving nutrition and monitoring progress toward these goals in the 1000 poorest communes. Their accomplishment requires consideration of complex food system, which includes agricultural production, the food environment, and their links to nutrition and health. Since the food system directly involves stakeholders across several government departments from agriculture to health, inter-ministerial collaboration is necessary for effective interventions. However, most data on food systems in the poorest communes are isolated in different disciplines, which makes monitoring the system challenging.

Entry points to Advance Transitions towards Sustainable diets (EATS) is a collaboration between the University of Michigan (U-M) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). The goal of this initiative is to leverage existing data and insights into the policy process to accelerate progress toward achieving sustainable diets in the Global South, mainly in Vietnam and Kenya from 2017 to 2020. In this regard, CIAT and U-M have profiled existing primary and secondary datasets relevant to food systems, and mapped them to the 8 domains of sustainable diets we talked about in our last blog.

8 Domains of Sustainable Diets

Zero Hunger Initiative has expressed interest in using the outputs of the mentioned data profile, and the relevant insights resulting from the re-analysis of the data, to support the planning of their interventions, hence making it a natural partner for EATS in Vietnam. Additionally, CIAT is also supporting the program in integrated analysis of new pilot surveys at three poor communes in Tra Vinh, Quang Ngai and Lao Cai provinces.

Taking advantage of the data profile, the EATS and CIAT have started to gather, synthesize and make accessible existing food system data on these poorest communes to the Zero Hunger agency. The final result from the synthesis of existing food systems data is a website where users can see maps of key food systems indicators in the provinces of the poorest communes. These indicators are divided into three main areas: global drivers, such as socioeconomics, policy and the environment; food supply processes, including the entire food supply chain, from production, harvest, distribution and consumption of food; as well as health and nutrition outcomes. After reviewing three datasets in Vietnam with food system variables, province level averages on these key food system indicators are calculated and then mapped to their location, using a geographic information system (GIS). The data available on the poorest communes are scarce, making province level information a more meaningful measure. Using the website, a user can quickly compare the status of each indicator among the provinces of the poorest communes. Government agencies can identify which of the indicators are most important to monitor and include such maps in their website. This website will be developed and hosted at Zero Hunger Office at the end of 2019.

This exciting collaboration between EATS, CIAT and Zero Hunger provides an example of how governments and academic institutions can collaborate toward shared goals of sustainability, nutrition and health.

This website will be developed and hosted at Zero Hunger Office at the end of 2019.

Erin Esaryk, a master student at University of California, Berkeley, presents a story map for 1000 poor communes at Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for Zero Hunger Office under her internship at CIAT. Photo by Huong Trinh.

The website includes the following datasets:

The Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey (VHLSS)

General Statistics Office Of Vietnam, 2016

The Nutrition Surveillance Survey (NSS)

Viet Nam National Institute of Nutrition, 2015

The Rural, Agricultural and Fishery Census

General Statistics Office Of Vietnam, 2016

For further information, please contact:

Huong Trinh, coordinator of EATS in Vietnam (

Erin Esaryk, visiting researcher at CIAT(

Huynh Tuyen, CIAT researcher in Vietnam (