The World Bank has agreed to finance three major projects in Laos designed to reduce malnutrition in children, and improve public resource use and service delivery.
The bank’s board of executive directors last week approved 72 million dollars in the form of a concessional loan to finance the projects, a media release from the World Bank Lao PDR Country Office said.
“One in every three children in Laos remains chronically malnourished and maternal and child malnutrition is estimated to cost Laos an estimated 2.4 per cent of national income annually.
“We want to support Laos in developing its precious human capital by tackling malnutrition,’’ World Bank Director for Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia, Ellen Goldstein, said.
According to the World Bank’s media release, households in four northern provinces with high levels of malnutrition will benefit from the 25 million dollar Scaling-Up Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Project.
These regions would also profit from the 27 million dollar Reducing Rural Poverty and Malnutrition Project, which supports the government to develop the building blocks of a national social protection system.
And it will also implement a conditional cash transfer programme for improving nutrition.
The innovative multi-sectoral nutrition convergence approach will come together in Xieng Khuang, Huaphan, Phongsaly and Oudomxay provinces in northern Laos.
In these areas, chronic malnutrition affects over 40 per cent of children under five, with long-term adverse impacts on height, brain development and the ability to succeed later in life.
These two new projects complement three others supported by the World Bank in health, education and diversified food production.
The 20 million dollar Enhancing Public Finance Management through Information and Communication Technology and Skills Project builds on reforms which have been undertaken to put a basic public financial management framework in place.