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Ending Malnutrition Key to Sustainable Development

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Achieving food security and improved nutrition is key to sustainable and fair development in Laos.

This was the message conveyed yesterday by Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dr Kikeo Chanthaboury during a meeting to launch the Strategic Review on Food and Nutrition Security in Laos. Working together, all sectors can achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2), which is to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable and promote sustainable agriculture, he said.

“What emerges clearly from this review is the need for an integrated and coordinated approach at all levels. Working together, we can achieve a Laos where every man, woman and child has the food and nutrition they need to lead a healthy and productive life,” said Dr Kikeo, who chaired the meeting.

Led by a team of national and international experts, in collaboration with the ministry, and guided by inputs from stakeholders across the country, the review is the first comprehensive assessment of what it will take to achieve SDG2. “This study gives an expansive and holistic overview of food and nutrition security in Laos,” said a rural development specialist with more than 20 years of experience, Dr Lilao Bouapao, who is 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 10 months, representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Dr Lilao, 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.

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 how that country achieved food and nutrition security.

The review provides an opportunity to understand Laos’ 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 which 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 Laos, and align the plans of the government and its partners to achieve SDG2, according to a joint statement.

The launch event was co-chaired by the WFP Director of Programme and Policy in Rome Mr. Stanlake Samkange and United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Laos Ms Kaarina Immonen, in the presence of WFP Country Director Ms Sarah Gordon-Gibson, other representatives and various stakeholders.

 

Source: Vientiane Times