Ten2Twenty Nepal / Nourishing Hope: Adolescents' life aspirations and nutrition in Nepal (COMPLETED)

This project, funded by the Edema-Steernberg Foundation, is part of an interdisciplinary WUR Ten2Twenty Program aimed at examining the interrelations, synergies as well as trade-offs between context-specific nutritional, social and economic life trajectories of optimizing nutrition of Filipino, Nepali, Mexican and Ghanaian adolescent girls for better health, family formation, education and labour participation.

The life stage of adolescence is characterized by rapid physical, mental and social growth and change. Moreover, it is a time where adolescents start to develop and actively act upon their life aspirations. Adolescence is therefore currently seen as a second window of opportunity to invest in health, nutrition and overall human development. During the transition into adulthood, trajectories and aspirations related to nutrition, health, education, family formation and labour participation are complexly interrelated and influenced by personal characteristics, the influence of significant others and the socio-cultural and economic (everyday life) context.

The Nepal project particularly focuses on the interrelatedness of adolescent girls’ life aspirations (as outcome) and nutritional status in collaboration with the 5-year Suaahara II Good Nutrition program/consortium, led by Helen Keller Nepal. The aims of the study are to understand the determinants of adolescent’s nutritional status (stunting, thinness); to understand adolescent girls’ life aspirations in the domains of health, nutrition, education, family formation (marriage, fertility), and work; to investigate if, and how these aspirations are linked to nutritional status and practices; and to see what happens with aspirations when nutritional status changes, thereby aiming to contribute to integrated efforts to improve adolescent’s nutritional status and developmental outcomes in Nepal.

Qualitative and quantitative approaches (mixed-methods), from both nutrition and social sciences are combined and complemented with creative elicitation methods (e.g. (future) timeline and self-portrait drawings) in order to better understand adolescents’ interrelated life trajectories. We use two rounds of the nationally-representative Suaahara Panel study (2017-2019) - following almost 1000 adolescent’s girls over time – and conduct an in-depth qualitative study with around 30 adolescents, their parents, teachers and peers, in two selected Terai districts.