Food Flows: Understanding local food systems of the Lower Mekong River

Forgotten Places:
A place-based examination of food security among transitioning Lower Mekong River communities

The Forgotten Places study focuses on food security among river communities that rely on the resources of Cambodia’s Lower Mekong River Basin. This comparative study examines disparities in food insecurity between peri-urban areas and rural communities, as well as access to social and health services and food environments that influence food security.

Cambodia’s Lower Mekong is a primarily rural area with many small-scale farms that provide significant amounts of rice and fish for the global food supply. These river populations are transitioning to peri-urban spaces as climate change and the construction of hydropower dams affect their agricultural activities and livelihoods.

The degree of urbanization and availability of services in these areas, and specifically among women, is not well understood. This mixed methods study seeks to fill these data gaps by working collaboratively with community-based organizations and other partners in the Lower Mekong region.

A River in Transition:
Understanding the health and environmental sustainability of food environments and diets in Lower Mekong River communities

In 2019, the landmark EAT-Lancet Commission report proposed a global healthy reference diet that fits within environmental limits for food systems. However, the report’s scope did not include guidance for adapting such changes within national contexts. How can different types of food systems contribute to diets while promoting environmental resilience in low- and middle-income countries, such as Cambodia?

Among food insecure communities living in the Lower Mekong region of Cambodia, access to healthy, sustainable diets is challenging for many reasons, including a decline in natural resources, inadequate food supply chains, and suboptimal food environments.

A River in Transition will develop novel tools to assess the health and environmental sustainability of food environments and evaluate rivers themselves as multifactorial, dynamic food environments. It will also evaluate how decision-making processes that govern the Lower Mekong region can influence the food environments of river communities in Cambodia. Led by an interdisciplinary team of researchers and public health practitioners, this project incorporates community-based participatory methods.