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Broad partnership to improve nutrition in Huaphan and Xieng Khuang

A nutrition initiative financed by the European Union (EU) and administered by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will see 3,600 households in 120 villages in five districts of Huaphan and Xieng Khuang provinces receive support around nutrition awareness and improved WASH facilities.

The initiative will be jointly implemented under the leadership of the Government of the Lao PDR, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and SNV.

The nutrition initiative, launched in Vientiane today, Feb 28, is one of the four outputs of the ADB-financed Sustainable Rural Infrastructure and Watershed Management Sector Project for the Lao PDR, with a financial envelope of USD 51.46 million, including a USD 4.46 million from the EU.

The project, managed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Department of Irrigation, is helping the Lao PDR develop market-driven and safe agricultural products and integrate rural areas into the national economy.

“Huaphan and Xieng Khuang are prioritised by the National Nutrition Strategy and Plan of Action of the Lao PDR as areas of poor nutrition and sanitation. Nutrition is mainstreamed across our Team Europe programmes in the Lao PDR. A partnership approach is key to achieve nutrition outcomes,” said Niall Leonard, Chargé d’Affaires from the EU Delegation to the Lao PDR.

Under this component, the aim is to reinforce the nutrition dimension in the agricultural sector by increasing local availability of nutritious food products from within the project area. Social behavioural change, reduction of women’s workloads and improving eating habits will be key elements addressed along the project’s life, targeting women of reproductive age, mothers of children under five, pregnant women, adolescent girls, persons with disabilities and smallholder farmers.

“ADB takes a comprehensive multi-sector approach to support the Lao PDR in food security and sustainable development,” said Sonomi Tanaka, ADB Country Director for Lao PDR. “With thanks to our partners, especially the EU, WFP and SNV, we are working together to improve nutrition in the Lao PDR, particularly in project’s target areas of Huaphan and Xieng Khuang provinces.”

The programme enabled the corporate negotiation of an agreement between ADB and WFP that will apply to future cases where WFP implements ADB-financed projects. Ms. Tanaka welcomed the progress in moving towards closer cooperation with UN agencies. “In our efforts to support the Government of the Lao PDR in the midst of the global multiple crisis and record inflation, we see the economic fallout is affecting the most vulnerable. This programme sets a precedent for many organisations to work together towards our shared development goals,” Ms. Tanaka added.

The nutrition initiative will build on existing global expertise and experience of both WFP and SNV in nutrition, including in the target areas, and will run until 2026.

“Our department is confident to receive the best implementation support from these two organizations. WFP and SNV have long-standing experience engaging with our government, including with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in helping us work towards the goals set out in the 9th Social-Economic Development Plan. In addition to this national-level support, they also have the field experience needed to deliver results in favour of improved nutrition in the Lao PDR,” said Bounkham Sydavong, Director General of the Department of Irrigation.

Source: Lao News Agency