FAO in Laos

Lao PDR halves hunger


Vientiane.- Lao PDR has made significant progress in reducing hunger, with the proportion of undernourished people in the country falling by 56.8 percent since the early 1990s, says a report released this week.

In 1990, 49 percent of the Lao population were undernourished and by 2007 that number had fallen to 26.9 percent. Today 18.5 percent of Lao people are undernourished, says the State of Food Insecurity 2015, published by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

FAO, IFAD and WFP have congratulated the Government on the progress outlined in the report, acknowledging in a statement the commitment to improving food security and nutrition, and eradicating hunger. “The government has taken the next step to reducing undernourishment even further among the poorest and the most vulnerable people by recently taking up the Zero Hunger Challenge.” said Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative.

However, all three organizations also warned that there is still much to achieve in Laos. The country’s population increased from 4.4 million in 1990 to 7.1 million this year, and of those, 1.3 million remain undernourished. Along with many other countries in the region, Lao PDR continues to strive to reduce undernutrition, which manifests in high rates of stunting in children below five years. In Southeast Asia, vitamin A deficiency is highest in Lao PDR and the Philippines, where it exceeds 40 percent. Iodine deficiency also affects more than 20 percent of the Lao population.

Lao PDR is one of 19 Asian-Pacific countries that have managed to reduce the proportion of people suffering from hunger by half since 1990 says the report.

Sarah Gordon-Gibson, WFP representative, stressed WFP’s actions to address these issues, such as its School Meal Programme, wherein 1,500 schools in the most remote parts of Laos children each receive a carefully prepared snack which contains much needed micronutrients, such as Vitamin A.

Benoit Thierry, IFAD Country Manager, said that with further investment in agriculture in rural areas, combined with opening up borders with ASEAN countries, Lao's population will create sustainable sources of food.

 Lao PDR signed up to the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, agreeing to expand efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by 2015. One of the measureable indicators under this goal was to half, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

According to the report, almost 62 percent of the world’s undernourished are found in Asia and the Pacific.

Also available:  Asia and the Pacific Overview of Food Insecurity 2015