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WFP Outlines Plan To Fight Undernutrition in Lao PDR Over Next Four Years

Nutrition is at the heart of the new Country Programme for Lao PDR approved by the Executive Board of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in November 2011.

VIENTIANE-- The Country Programme details WFP’s projects to fight malnutrition in Lao PDR from 2012 to 2015. The projects to improve the nutrition and food security of more than 750,000 men, women and children in the country will require US$69 million in funding to be fully implemented.

“The Country Programme was developed in full consultation with our partners in the Lao Government and other development partners,” says Eri Kudo, WFP Representative in Lao PDR. “Together, we defined the most pressing hunger challenges Lao PDR is facing, and the activities we believe will be most effective in addressing them.”

WFP is working to help Lao PDR become free from undernutrition and its debilitating impact on human potential and national development. WFP will work with partners in the Health, Education and Agriculture sectors to address the full range of factors affecting under-nutrition.

The new Country Programme focuses on alleviating chronic malnutrition, which affects every second child in rural areas and prevents them from developing to their full potential.

“Chronic malnutrition is an inter-generational problem: malnourished mothers are more likely to bear malnourished children. To break this cycle, WFP is addressing the multiple causes of undernutrition at different stages in life,” said Kudo.

The Country Programme focuses on pregnant women and young children during the critical first 1000 days of life, in which a lack of nutrients can lead to permanent damage to physical and mental development, through the Mother and Child Health and Nutrition Programme, schoolchildren through the School Meals Programme, and adults through Livelihoods Initiatives for Nutrition and nutrition education.

WFP also provides specialised nutrition products to prevent and treat malnutrition in children, and will continue to be a strong partner for the Lao government for disaster preparedness and emergency response.

WFP’s new Country Programme will also address hidden hunger in the form of micronutrient deficiencies. Anaemia and vitamin A deficiency affect large sections of the Lao population, leading to illness and disability. Building on its comparative advantage in purchasing power and logistics, WFP will work to ensure certain common food products are fortified, and provide part of the market for those commodities.

The WFP Country Programme is in line with the Lao Government’s Seventh National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2011-2015) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (2012-2015), and supports the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 1 (MDG 1) to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger.

Despite steady economic growth over the past two decades, large parts of Lao PDR’s population still suffer from undernutrition. According to the MDG Progress Report for Lao PDR, the MDG 1 target - to reduce by half by 2015 the proportion of people who suffer from hunger - remains “seriously off track” , making its achievement a priority for the Lao Government, the UN system and other development partners in the country.