Ending malnutrition key for sustainable development, major review finds

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Achieving food security and improved nutrition is key for sustainable and fair development in Lao PDR, according to a report launched today at an event chaired by Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice-Minister of Planning and Investment.

Led by a team of national and international experts, in collaboration with the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and guided by inputs from stakeholders across the country, the report is the first comprehensive review of what it will take to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, which is to end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

“This study gives an expansive and holistic overview of food and nutrition security in Lao PDR,” said Dr. Lilao Bouaphao, a rural development specialist with more than 20 years of experience who was in charge of the review. “It is our hope that it will be a practical and useful reference guide for all partners as we embark on the journey to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Over the past ten months, representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Dr. Bouaphao and four experts in food and nutrition security, climate change, social protection and gender have been working to review existing studies and to consult with a wide range of stakeholders at all levels. The team held meetings with 49 key partners in Vientiane, led consultations in 17 provinces across the country taking in the viewpoints of more than 500 people, and visited Vietnam to learn lessons on how the country achieved food and nutrition security.

“What emerges clearly from this report is the need for an integrated and coordinated approach at all levels,” said Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Vice-Minister of Planning and Investment. “Working together we can achieve a Lao PDR where every man, woman and child has the food and nutrition they need to lead a healthy and productive life.”
The review provides an opportunity to understand the country’s priorities for Government and development partners to engage and contribute towards the country’s graduation to Middle Income Country status and achievement of national SDG targets. The review also puts forth recommendations on the way forward over the next 15 years in order to meet the ambitious Sustainable Development Goal 2 targets.

The review confirms that positive gains related to food and nutrition security have been made in a number of sectors including policy leadership, economic growth, poverty reduction, and overall food availability. However, it notes that challenges remain, particularly chronic malnutrition (stunting), which currently stands at nearly 36 percent.

The report was commissioned by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and was carried out by independent experts to foster a shared understanding of the food security and nutrition situation in the country, and align the plans of the Government and its partners to achieve SDG 2. The launch event was co-chaired Mr. Stanlake Samkange, WFP Director of Programme and Policy, and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, United Nations Resident Coordinator, in the presence of Ms. Sarah Gordon-Gibson, WFP Country Director and Representative and various stakeholders.

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