WFP’s vision for Lao PDR is a country that is free from undernutrition and its debilitating impacts on human potential and national development. WFP supports the Government of Lao PDR to prevent and reduce wasting, stunting and micronutrient deficiencies.
Recent and severe weight loss, which is caused by starvation and/or disease and often associated with emergencies or other shocks, can lead to further serious illness and death. In children under the age of five this acute malnutrition is called wasting; young children and infants are especially vulnerable and, if affected, need food assistance urgently.
Stunting, or chronic malnutrition, is caused during the first 1000 days of life, from conception to two years of age. A lack of nutrients during this critical period impacts the development of a child’s brain and body; the effects last a lifetime. Lao PDR has one of the worst stunting rates worldwide – every second child in rural areas is chronically malnourished.
Micronutrient deficiencies can lead to serious health problems for both children and adults. Pregnant women and their infants are especially vulnerable. Iron and folic acid are especially important for pregnant women, while vitamin A, iron and iodine are especially important for infants and children. In Laos, many people lack these essential micronutrients in their diets.
WFP Response to Fight Wasting - Emergency Preparedness and Response
In emergencies caused by frequent natural disasters, nutritionally balanced emergency food rations prevent people from becoming malnourished, while those who are already malnourished receive treatment. WFP takes the lead on supplementary feeding and provide support on therapeutic feeding programs. In addition, WFP builds the capacity of government counterparts to respond to smaller scale emergencies without assistance.
WFP Response to Fight Stunting
To address high chronic malnutrition rates which persist throughout the country, WFP is taking a lifecycle approach, targeting children during the critical first 1000 days of their life, primary and secondary school students, pregnant and lactating women and other caregivers as well as households and communities with high chronic malnutrition rates.
- Mother and Child Health and Nutrition: To improve the nutritional and health status of pregnant and breastfeeding women and small children, WFP delivers specialised nutrition products that ensure pregnant and lactating women as well as children aged 6-23 months receive all the nutrients they need; encourages women to attend health centres before, during and after delivery; and provides nutrition education at the village level.
- School Meals: In over 1,500 primary schools, WFP combines a nutritious mid-morning snack for children ages 2 to 5 with nutrition-related messages to improve the nutritional status of schoolchildren and their families, and encourage school enrolment and attendance. WFP works in close cooperation with the Lao Government to gradually hand over school meals activities.
- Livelihood Initiatives for Nutrition: Food for asset and cash for asset activities focus on chronically food-insecure households and communities. WFP supports them in creating assets that improve their nutrition and increase their food security in the long term. In areas where farmers produce a surplus but still struggle with high stunting levels, WFP works to enhance productivity and link farmers to markets, and provide nutrition education so the increased income can benefit the nutritional status of the whole family.
WFP Response to Fight Micronutrient Deficiencies - Food Fortification and Marketing
In its efforts to address micronutrient deficiencies, WFP works closely with the government and the private sector to fortify locally produced foods to be used in WFP interventions and marketed across the country.