FAO in Laos

World Food Day 2020 Sees No Poverty, Zero Hunger Goals in Focus as FAO75 Marked

Food, Nutrition Security Critical in Lao PDR As Pandemic’s Economic Impacts Complicate Challenges To Achieving No Poverty, Zero Hunger Goals on FAO75 says UN In Lao PDR

30/10/2020UN Says Food, Nutrition Security Critical in Lao PDR As Pandemic’s Economic Impacts Complicate Challenges To Achieving No Poverty, Zero Hunger Goals amid FAO’s 75th Anniversary VIENTIANE October 31 – Lao PDR's remarkable progress halving under-five child mortality since 1990 is an achievement worthy of celebration, yet challenges to further reducing hunger, malnutrition, and poverty are steepening significantly due to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the United Nations in the Lao PDR. United Nations Resident Coordinator Sara Sekkenes made the comments in Vientiane in a speech celebrating World Food Day 2020, International Day and the National Week for the Eradication of Poverty and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 75th Anniversary. Three days of events from Thursday to Saturday, October 29-31, were attended by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry's Vice Minister Dr. Linkham Douangsavanh and Vice Minister Mr. Khambounnut Sayyanone. FAO representative Nasar Hayat, the World Food Programme (WFP) country director and representative Jan Delbaere, representatives of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), UNICEF, and the United National Development Programme (UNDP) were among those to join the Ministry in celebrating the annual event. The ceremonies, seminars, informations booths and markets saw a gathering of farmers and producers, policymakers, researchers, academia and students of the agriculture and forestry sectors, and the international community including representatives of groups promoting greater awareness and action together with those who suffer from hunger.  Addressing the gathering on Friday, October 30, Ms. Sekkenes said in the Lao PDR, the Government and the UN have built long-standing cooperation in partnership to reduce poverty rates and undernourishment, improve primary school enrollments towards achieving the relevant Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) . "Since 1990, this has halved the mortality rate of children under 5-years-old, creating positive personal and social impacts that are life-long," she said. Ms. Sekkenes said up to 2019, Lao PDR had made remarkable progress in reducing poverty over the past few decades, halving the poverty rate from over 40% in 1993 to 18.3% in 2019. Yet, with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, estimates indicate that the poverty rate will jump to over 20%, given the high impact on the hospitality industry and the high levels of informality in the Lao labor market.  "To address these multi-layered challenges facing Lao PDR, we must continue to support the progress of Lao PDR in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including the critical indicators for poverty reduction, on the zero hunger as well as food security and nutritious diet for all. Food security for all contributes to an equitable society, which, in turn, creates national stability. Together, we work to ensure that food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture, poverty alleviation, and rural development are increasingly recognized as major parts of the solution to the global zero hunger challenge under Agenda 2030." Held at National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute in the Lao capital, in-person events were of reduced scale from previous years due to COVID-19 prevention measures. The opening ceremony, addresses, and seminar sessions were streamed live via social media (Facebook). Seminar topics included clean agriculture development for food security and nutrition, gender empowerment and agricultural production, scaling up sustainable land management practices by smallholder farmers, biodiversity for food security and improving livelihood in uplands, factors associated with child malnutrition of multiethnic people in mountainous areas, cooperative development and policy support in rural areas. World Food Day 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations' oldest permanent specialized agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization. On October 16, 1945, FAO was established at an international conference in Quebec, Canada, to work on increasing agricultural productivity to eliminate hunger, improve nutrition, and enhance livelihoods. World Food Day 2020 also comes as the world must immediately and urgently respond to and recover from the impact COVID-19 has on food systems and the billions of people who rely on them for nourishment. While the coronavirus's spread has seriously disrupted food security and livelihoods for millions of people in this region, the world also finds itself off-track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals to end malnutrition and poverty. Action is needed immediately, as expressed by FAO Director-General, Mr. Qu Dongyu, in a global video message played at the event, "tomorrow begins today."