- Governance

SDC funds “Protection and Services for Vulnerable Settlements, Migrants, and Youth in Savannakhet, Champassak”

The Ministry of Planning and Investment together with three UN agencies (UNFPA, IOM, UN-Habitat) organized the first meeting of the Steering Committee of the UN Joint programme “Protection and Services for Vulnerable Settlements, Migrants, and Youth in Savannakhet and Champassak” for the programme funded by SDC.

UNFPA will convene on this innovative partnership to deliver results over an 18-month period with a total budget of USD1.38 million for all partners. The SDC contribution is of over USD998,000.

The joint programme tackles the health and socio-economic crisis caused by COVID-19 by enabling the government and communities in the Lao PDR to enhance their resilience. Champassak and Savannakhet were selected on the basis of high population and numbers of returning migrants and consequent Protection, WASH and SRH requirements.

The three UN agencies partnership is based on their comparative strengths and will build on existing cooperation with the government, implementing partners including the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Nam Papa State Enterprise, Lao Youth Union, Lao Women Union, and civil society partners.

The COVID-19 impacts include increase in poverty and inequality especially for those who are already vulnerable. The World Bank estimates that in the Lao PDR, an additional 90,000-240,000 people could fall into poverty. The spread of the virus will have more serious socio-economic, demographic and epidemiological consequences for those already vulnerable. It will also magnify deep-rooted gender inequalities.

“I would like to thank UN agencies (UNFPA, IOM, UNHABITAT), especially SDC, who supports the fund for this joint programme and the line Ministries (MoH and MoLSW) for your support and collaboration to make this UN Joint Programme happen. It is well known that to improve service for those most in need, we ourselves need to plan better and have stronger collaboration between nontraditional sectors,” said Ms Sisomboun Ounnavong, Director General, Department of International Cooperation, MPI.

Under this new effort, direct beneficiaries are estimated to be 172,000 people – of which 101,160 women – including migrant returnees, internal migrant workers, displaced or stranded migrants and victims of human trafficking, adolescents, youth, GBV victims, women and men from the two provinces. It is expected that around 600,000 people will indirectly benefit from this joint programme.

Mariam A.Khan, UNFPA Representative in the Lao PDR expressed sincere appreciation to all partners for engaging in this joint response to COVID-19 that will build resilience, and reduce social impacts on vulnerable groups such as adolescents and young population, women, and migrants.

“Innovation and new modalities of working are essential to reduce COVID impact while maintaining momentum towards the vision of SDGs on ‘leaving no one behind,” said the UNFPA Representative.

“This project is one among several initiatives supported by SDC to respond to the short and longer-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Lao PDR. SDC looks forward to seeing the stakeholders engaged in these different initiatives making best use of synergies to increase impact and sustainability,” said Jean-François Cuénod, Regional Director of Cooperation, SDC.

The Steering Committee facilitates the effective collaboration between the Participating UN Organisations and the government of the Lao PDR, and will have under its responsibility: to provide strategic direction and oversight; to review and approve reports, work plans and budgets, among others. Approval of the funds allocation and the work plan now will allow for implementation to proceed smoothly as the activities have been included in the implementing partners and UN agencies work plans.

Source: Lao News Agency