Reducing malnutrition in Laos with ready-to-use therapeutic food

The NutriLao project, which brings together the Institute for Research and Development (IRD) and the social enterprise Maï Savanh Lao (MSL), aims to combat malnutrition, which particularly affects women and children in Laos. FID funding enables the optimisation of the nutritional and sanitary qualities and the production of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) made from local agro-ecological food resources.


According to UNICEF, approximately 9% of Lao children under the age of five suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

This chronic phenomenon has consequences on the cognitive development, morbidity and mortality of the population as well as on the development and economic health of the state.


To improve the nutritional status of the Lao population, IRD combines a partnership approach between populations, companies and research with an agro-ecological approach to develop and produce Ready-to-use Food based on Sacha Inchi, a plant available locally and exploited under the fair trade label by the social enterprise MSL.

Based on successful projects in Cambodia and Vietnam, the project aims at producing food for acutely malnourished children, which is also used to improve the nutritional state of pregnant women and prevent malnutrition.

FID’s support will help improve the composition of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food adapted to the preferences of vulnerable populations and raise awareness of the need for a diversified and sustainable diet.

The project, which is particularly gender-sensitive, includes women community leaders at the start and in the various stages of the project, in order to strengthen the appropriation and use of the Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food within households and to accelerate behavioural changes towards a diversified diet.

Expected results

Through the adoption of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, IRD’s project contributes to a sustainable food system by promoting the use of local agroecological products to make up economically accessible nourishment.

  • Raising community awareness of the need for a diversified and sustainable diet
  • Nutritional validation and community adoption of RUFs and RUTFs: integration into households’ diet
  • Reduction of micronutrient deficiencies for vulnerable populations, particularly anaemia among women
  • Optimisation of production processes: scaling up to national and regional levels
Copyright photo header: Félix Vigné Imagéo / AFD
Copyright photo thumbnail: IRD

Presentation of the team

L’Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) is a French public scientific and technological establishment (EPST) under the supervision of the Ministries in charge of Research and Cooperation. IRD has been present in Laos since 1995.
Maï Savanh Lao (MSL) is a social enterprise created in Laos in 2005.