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Lao People’s Democratic Republic Country Strategic Plan (2022–2026)

Operation ID: LA02

CSP approved at the EB November 2022 session

Revision 01 approved by the ED in June 2022.

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic has one of the fastest growing economies in the Asia and the Pacific region and is expected to graduate from least-developed country status in 2026. Poverty levels have dropped from 46.0 percent in 1993 to 18.3 percent in 2019, but while food insecurity and malnutrition have also declined, stunting continues to affect one in three children and 20 percent of the population remains food-insecure. Anaemia rates also remain high, while wasting rates increased between 2011 and 2017. In addition, there is an increasing trend in obesity and overweight, presenting the threat of a triple burden of malnutrition. The quality of healthcare and education also faces significant challenges, with the vast majority of students not meeting minimum standards in reading, writing and math. The country is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with natural disasters of increasing frequency and scale.

While an early lockdown and other strict measures instituted by the Government protected the country from the significant health impacts of coronavirus disease 2019, the socioeconomic effects of the pandemic – including on economic growth, government revenues, employment and remittances – threaten to erase much of the progress made in recent years. Additional pressure on an already tight government budget also makes government investments and transition processes a challenge.

Through this country strategic plan, WFP will continue to gradually reduce its direct implementation of programmes while increasing national and local capacity strengthening initiatives, building on its strong relationships with the Government at all levels. The long-term vision is to enable the Government and communities to own, manage and implement food and nutrition security programmes by 2030. A nutrition- and gender-sensitive approach will be taken under all strategic outcomes. Increased focus will be directed to emergency preparedness and response in view of the country’s exposure to natural hazards, and WFP will work with the Government on strengthening national preparedness and response capacities while implementing its own activities and responses. More emphasis will be placed on transition strategies for the handover of activities to the Government, and support for the Government’s strategic and policy frameworks. Close collaboration with other United Nations entities, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, will continue to be an important part of WFP’s interventions.

WFP’s support for the Government in achieving food and nutrition security will be based on four strategic outcomes:

➢ Strategic outcome 1: Schoolchildren in vulnerable areas have improved food security, nutrition and learning results through a sustainable national school meals programme by 2026. WFP will deliver an integrated package of support for schoolchildren in priority, disadvantaged districts, while providing technical assistance to strengthen the expanding national school meals programme.

➢ Strategic outcome 2: Vulnerable people at risk of any form of malnutrition, in particular women and girls of reproductive age, children under 5 and school-age children, have improved nutrition outcomes in line with national targets, by 2026. WFP will provide nutrition services focused on the prevention of malnutrition for targeted people, while also providing technical assistance, advocacy and evidence-based advice for the Government and other stakeholders, including in the private sector.

➢ Strategic outcome 3: Vulnerable people in disaster-affected or at-risk areas have enhanced food and nutrition security all year round and increased capacity to mitigate and manage risks associated with climate and other shocks by 2026. WFP will work with targeted communities and government entities in disaster and climate risk management to strengthen their capacity to reduce losses from shocks, while ensuring food and nutrition security for communities all year round.

➢ Strategic outcome 4: Crisis-affected populations in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic are able to meet their food, nutrition and other essential needs during and after disasters. WFP will provide nutrition-sensitive food and cash-based assistance to help meet the essential needs of crisis-affected people when needs exceed the Government’s capacity to respond.

The country strategic plan is fully aligned with priorities outlined in the Government’s ninth national socioeconomic development plan, relevant sector plans and the United Nations sustainable development cooperation framework for 2022–2026 and is linked to Sustainable Development Goal 2 and related areas such as poverty alleviation, health, education, the environment and gender equality.