Nutrition-Sensitive Aquatic Food Systems: Have Mangroves Been Overlooked for their Potential to Support Gendered Food and Nutrition Security in Indonesia?

Project: HDR ProjectPhD

Project Details


Mangroves provide essential habitats for a range of aquatic foods, including finfish, invertebrates, and shellfish, as well as birds and tree products, such as fruit and leaves. Coastal communities across Indonesia are highly dependent on mangroves for food, livelihoods, income, and cultural values. Much of recent mangrove research has focused on conservation, management, and blue carbon but excludes food services. Aquatic foods are nutrient-rich, primarily in micronutrients such as vitamin A, Calcium, Zinc, and Iron. Yet, the contribution of mangrove systems to household food and nutrition security is overlooked in the literature, despite the increasing recognition of the potential for aquatic foods to boost micro and macronutrient intake. This is particularly important in places like Indonesia and elsewhere where micronutrient deficiencies are extremely prevalent in low- and middle-income countries and a cause of public health concern; particularly for women and children under the age of five.

This proposed PhD research aims to apply an exploratory sequential mixed-method case study design to examine the pathways through which mangrove ecosystems and aquatic foods contribute to gendered food and nutrition security in Indonesia. This research has four objectives. Firstly, to examine how mangroves are utilised for food and food-related livelihoods within different coastal groups in the Asia-Pacific using a systematic literature review. Secondly, to explore the indirect and direct food and nutrition security benefits of mangroves and investigate gendered mangrove-based livelihoods, dietary diversity, and food security in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Thirdly, to quantify the nutrient contribution that aquatic mangrove foods make to mangrove fishers’ household dietary requirements in West Kalimantan. The fourth objective is to investigate whether food and nutrition security or food-related livelihoods are considered in Indonesian governance and management strategies and policies concerning mangroves. The research will provide data and knowledge on mangrove livelihood pathways to gendered aspects of indirect food and nutrition security, dietary diversity, and the contribution of mangrove foods to household micro and macronutrient consumption. Understanding the contribution of mangrove systems to household food and nutrition security will raise the profile of the need for integrated policies and the extent to which coastal communities are dependent on mangrove food services in Indonesia.

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