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 reached 140,829 people (82 percent women) and has benefitted more than 21,120 households with its village infrastructure project (VIP) investments. AFN has provided beneficiaries with 38 newly constructed and rehabilitated irrigation schemes, covering 136 hectares, that use better technology to control the flow of water and 5,696 women with garden grants, who then have established or improved their home gardens. Another 5,199 women successfully completed the FNS and have applied for the garden grant, which they will receive in 2020. These women are among the 18,025 women specifically and 20,133 people overall who have participated in the FNS. During the second half of 2019, 201 Village Infrastructure Projects (VIPs) finished their construction activities, including 314 kilometers of rural access roads, 62 drinking water schemes, eight community fishponds, 38 irrigation schemes covering 136 hectares, and six suspension bridges. For 2020, AFN has received and approved 119 VIP proposals, which currently are at various levels of paperwork.
IFAD Country Director and Representative, Vietnam, Thailand and Lao PDR
Task Leader for WFP
Official Project Documents: