Successful investments in food and nutrition security in rural Lao PDR lead to expansion of programmes
The Agriculture for Nutrition II project addresses poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition among the rural population, especially groups such as women, young people and people with disabilities, and continues to expand into new geographies in the country.
“The project is contributing to the implementation of the food security and nutrition programme, the rural development and poverty reduction programme of the agriculture and forestry sector, as well as the National Nutrition Strategy to 2025 and the National Nutrition Action Plan 2021-2025 of the Lao Government,” said H.E. Mr. Thongphat Vongmany, Deputy-Minister of Agriculture and Forestry.
The project builds on the success and lessons learned from the first phase, implemented between 2016 and 2022 in 400 villages of northern Laos. It showed how promoting small- and medium-scale agricultural development, including through home gardens, has led to better nutrition, with a decline in stunting and higher incomes reported across project areas. Awareness raising on health and nutrition and the development of village nutrition plans have helped make diets more diverse, leading to the reduction of malnutrition in the longer term. Sustainable climate-resilient agriculture practices combined with the work of strong community-based organizations led to increased production and higher incomes for rural families.
The new phase will scale-up activities in three provinces, namely Oudomxay, Phongsaly and Xiengkhouang, while adding the three southern provinces of Salavan, Sekong and Attapeu, reaching 168,000 people across 28,000 households. Through its activities, the project will help vulnerable rural communities navigate in the current difficult environment of rising prices for food and agricultural inputs, while supporting a bottom-up approach of community-led development.
“Most of Lao PDR’s farmers – the people who grow the country’s food – are small-scale producers practicing subsistence, family-focused agriculture,” said Ambrosio Barros, IFAD Country Director, Lao PDR. “They have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, high food prices and slowing economic growth. That’s why the project focuses on the role of small-scale farmers in improving household nutrition and food security through sustainable agriculture.”
“The AFN project sits squarely in WFP’s strategy to support the Government of the Lao PDR combating malnutrition and food insecurity, with a specific focus on women. Phase two of the project builds on the successes and lessons learned from the first phase, confirming that effectively addressing under-nutrition is possible only through integrated agriculture and nutrition behavior change communication,” said Marc-Andre Prost, WFP Country Director and Representative.
This project and its predecessor are financed by the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) as well as IFAD, supervised by IFAD and WFP and implemented through the Department of Planning and Cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Phase II is expected to run until 2029 and has a financial envelope of US$ 48 million.