The UNICEF Lao PDR proudly kicked off its 50th-anniversary celebrations with a high-level visit to Xieng Khuang from April 20-22, showcasing the significant progress made for children in the country over the past five decades.
The visit was led by Ms. Phonevanh Outhavong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment (MPI), Mark Hereward, UNICEF Chief Data Officer, and UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR, Pia Rebello Britto. They were additionally joined by representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs related ministries and provincial authorities.
The visit highlighted key milestones achieved through the strong partnership between the Lao Government and UNICEF, focusing on achievements in upholding child rights and data for children contributing to measuring progress in national development.
The delegation began their mission on April 20 with a courtesy visit to Mr. Bounchanh Sivongphanh, Governor of Xieng Khuang Province.
Following this, the delegation commenced their visit to local villages on April 21. They began by visiting Phonxay village of Khoun district and met with a child with disabilities and his family who have benefited from the child protection programme on care and support for children with disabilities, a collaborative effort between UNICEF and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to provide support service for CWD through a combined advocacy, care, referral, and rehabilitation services.
The project recruited and built the capacity of local people from the target villages to act as village coordinators to collect data on children, visit families, and refer children with disabilities to additional services. Parents of Children with disabilities also receive training on care and how to assist their children to do the basic physical rehabilitation exercise. Now Kum can say some words and can ride a bicycle and walk with support from his mother in the village/along the road where he can see more things and more people.
In 2019, with support from the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Programme (ANCP), UNICEF supported the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to pilot a project Community-Based Child-Protection Services for children with disabilities in two provinces –5 villages in Savannakhet and 13 villages in Xieng Khuang. In 2022, the project expanded to 10 villages, (5 in Khoun, 5 in Pek districts), and reached a total of 176 CWD (F88, M 88).
In Naxay village of Khoun district the delegation met with the survey team for the Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS III) to observe the data collection process in action. The delegation observed the collection of anthropometric measurements of the height and weight of children below the age of five. The measurement would contribute to an understanding of the nutritional status of the child. In another household, the delegation had the chance to observe water quality testing to understand the quality of household water consumption. The insights gained from this comprehensive national survey will help the Lao Government and UNICEF design more effective policies to improve the lives of Lao children and women. This data will also contribute to an understanding of the progress made under the 9th NSEDP for human resource development and achievements of several SDGs.
In Oum Khaoyao village, the high-level visit showcased the spring water and sanitation system, which has been pivotal in providing clean water and improving the health of the community. This success story exemplifies the long-standing commitment of UNICEF and the Lao Government to advance water and sanitation initiatives in the country.
During the visit, Ms. Phonevanh Outhavong, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment, remarked, “The 50-year partnership between the Lao Government and UNICEF has brought about significant improvements in the lives of our children and women. The progress we see today in areas such as health, child protection, and water and sanitation is a result of our collective efforts and determination. We look forward to continuing our work with UNICEF to further enhance the well-being of our people and achieve our shared vision for a prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable Laos.”
“The progress achieved for children in Laos over the past 50 years is remarkable, and it is a testament to the unwavering commitment of the Lao Government and UNICEF to work together to create a better future for every child,” said Mark Hereward, UNICEF Chief Data Officer.
The visit to Xieng Khuang highlights the dedication of UNICEF Lao PDR and the Lao Government to continue their partnership in advancing the well-being of children and women in the country. As UNICEF Lao PDR celebrates its 50th anniversary, the organization reaffirms its commitment to supporting the Lao Government in realizing its development goals and building a brighter future for all Lao children.
Pia Britto, UNICEF Lao PDR Representative, also shared her thoughts on the longstanding partnership, “Over the past 50 years, UNICEF Laos has been privileged to work hand-in-hand with the Lao Government, striving to create a better future for the children and women of this country. We are immensely proud of the progress we have made together and remain steadfast in our commitment to continue supporting the Lao Government in achieving its development goals. Over the coming months we will continue to celebrate this milestone, our partnership is more important than ever in ensuring that every child in Laos has the opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Source: Lao News Agency