New project launched to improve nutrition in northern Laos

September 30, 2020

Local communities in the northern provinces of Laos will benefit from a pilot project which was launched to improve nutrition levels and people's living conditions.

The project would provide technical assistance and advice to enable the communities to produce their goods more efficiently and of higher quality, local daily Vientiane Times on Tuesday quoted Executive Director of the Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF), Chit Thavisay, as saying.

The project is being launched in 248 villages covering 12 districts in the target provinces of Phongsaly, Xieng Khuang, Huaphan and Oudomxay, with a focus on basic infrastructure, nutrition support and income generation activities for local people.

A senior official from the Nutrition Center of the Ministry of Health, who wished to remain anonymous, reiterated that poverty was the primary reason for stunting and underweight children under five years of age in these provinces.

The problem demands a series of coordinated clear policies and the launch of the pilot project was needed to deal with the immediate, underlying, and fundamental causes of malnutrition, the official said.

According to data from the PRF, malnutrition rates remained high in these provinces. About 19 percent of Lao citizens are malnourished, and 33 percent of children under the age of five are stunted.

Reducing malnutrition is vital for boosting human capital in Laos and ensuring that young adults enjoy productive and fulfilling lives, according to the World Bank.

The project is supported by the Lao government budget and development partners, including the World Bank with the third phase running from 2020-2024 and implementation by the PRF.

The PRF, established in 2002, has become part of the Lao government's Nutrition Convergence agenda, with a renewed focus on reducing stunting among children.