In Lao People’s Democratic Republic, undernutrition and food insecurity remain stubbornly high, with stunted children under five up to 61% in some provinces. Improving women’s nutrition is critical to breaking the intergenerational cycle of undernutrition and, given the negative impact that chronic undernutrition has on health, productivity, educational attainment, and income-earning ability, addressing this issue is essential to sustained national economic growth. Communities most prone to undernutrition live in upland areas where the dominant household economic activities – agriculture and non-timber forest product extraction – are increasingly constrained by unsustainable farming practices. This is why the government’s National Nutrition Strategy to 2025 and Plan of Action 2016-2020 specifically looks to boost agricultural productivity as a top priority – to raise incomes and improve livelihoods, reduce its vulnerability to climate change, and expand both public and private sector investments.
AFN reduces extreme poverty and malnutrition in the poorest communities in northern Laos by strengthening public services, establishing community-driven, providing agriculture-based nutrition interventions, and forming sustainable and inclusive market-driven partnerships. Activities include the establishment of nutrition-sensitive agriculture production infrastructure, particularly micro-irrigation systems, the creation of Farmer Nutrition Schools (FNSs), and the financing of investments to support availability and use of nutritious food for female-led households. The project supports diversification from rice, the main staple food, which accounts for 72 percent of the total cultivated area. The project also promotes climate-smart sustainable farming through the introduction of conservation farming techniques and agroforestry.
- Climate Change
To date, the project has benefited 25,130 people, including more than 13,000 women, and is expected to directly benefit about 194,000 people, of whom about half will be women. To date, 198 Village Infrastructure Plans with technical designs, environmental screening, bills of quantities, and cost break-downs have been developed for funding under the community-driven Village Development Funds. These include 46 water supply system covers, 29 irrigation renovation schemes, 74 access tracks, 10 suspension bridge to production site, 2 paddy field clearances, 26 animal barbed fences, 8 village ponds, and 3 community marketplaces. FNSs for village women, including pregnant and nursing mothers and mothers with children under two, are ongoing in 142 villages. Currently, 3,401 women FNS members regularly attend fortnightly sessions. They have analyzed their house-hold seasonal food and nutrition security, developed household production plans to meet seasonal needs, and completed applications for Garden Grants ($120 per woman). In total, 4,552 grant applications. These included 3,029 for poultry raising, 315 for fish raising, 2 for poultry-fish-frog integration, 20 for frog raising, 183 for vegetable cultivation in green houses, 997 vegetable-poultry-fish integration, and 6 for mushroom cultivation that have been received and approved. Up to 326 farmer groups have been established and officially approved. Approximately 133 business plans were received and approved and funded in late 2018. Group members have been trained in procurement and fund management and have commenced implementing their sub-projects. Sub-projects include chicken (13), pig (9), goat (5), tea (1), Makkha (1), and horticulture (1).
IFAD Country Director and Representative, Vietnam, Thailand and Lao PDR
Task Leader for WFP
Official Project Documents: