NIPN Transition Workshop in Lao PDR
“Sustaining the gains of NIPN phase 1 for maximum impact”
The Policy Analysis Unit (PAU) and Data Analysis Unit (DAU) of the National Information Platforms on Nutrition (NIPN) organized a two-day transitional workshop in Vangvieng, Vientiane Province from 31st May to 1st June 2022. The workshop sought to ensure a smooth transition between NIPN phase 1 and phase 2. It provided an opportunity for sharing of lessons learnt, and to initiate discussions with provinces in the north, central, and southern regions of Lao PDR on the scale-up and rollout of NIPN phase II at the sub-national level.
The workshop was jointly opened by Mme. Sisomboun Ounavong, Director General of the Department of International Cooperation, Ministry of Planning and Investment and Convener of NIPN Secretariate and, Mr. Vatthana Atanaphone, Program Manager of the Delegation of the EU to Lao PDR, and Ms. Maryam Abdu, Chief of Social Policy, UNICEF.
Attendees included high-level policymakers from the provinces and their staff, and team members of the PAU and DAU. Dr Ingo Neu of the Capacity 4 Nutrition was the lead facilitator for the two-day meeting.
“The NIPN initiative provides us with an excellent opportunity to strengthen institutional capacity on data generation, analysis, and using data to influence policy and decision-making in Lao PDR. Over the past four years, NIPN has achieved a lot in this regard” Maryam O. Abdu, UNICEF.
“As we reflect on the past in the next two days, may our shared experiences and lessons learnt guide us into the next phase of NIPN for greater results and impact” Mme. Sisomboun Ounavong, MPI.
Over the years, the NIPN process has been institutionalized using existing multi-sectoral nutrition coordination mechanisms in the country. Capacity of government staff and departments have been enhanced in data and policy analysis for nutrition as well as generating evidence for nutrition policy and programming. An interactive web-based platform was developed to track nutrition results and investments as well as provide reliable data for nutrition stakeholders.
The 2nd phase shall foster partnership with government institutions involved in evidence generation as well as academic institutions at both national and subnational levels. Strong linkages with existing projects and other EU-funded initiatives will be explored for synergy and complementarity. This will maximize outputs and ensure cohesion in nutrition advocacy and system strengthening in the country.
The PAU is hosted at the Socio-Economic Policy Research Institute (SPRI), the Lao Academy of Social and Economic Sciences (LASES). The DAU is hosted at the Development Policy Research Institute (DRI), Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).
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Capacity building on basic statistics and nutrition
This is the first NIPN intensive training for 2022. This three-day training was held from 26 – 28 July 2022 in Van Vieng. The purpose of the training was to continue the effort of strengthening the nutritional and statistical capacities of staff working in different agencies. This intensive training session was a continuation of the four capacity-building training held in 2021.
Twenty-eight participants participated in this training from the following sectors:
- The Development policy research institute (DRI)
- Social-economic policy research institute (SPRI)
- Lao Statistics Bureau (LASB)
- Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
- Ministry of Education and Sports
- Center for Nutrition
Dr Thanongsai Soukkhamthat, Deputy Director of The Development Research Institute welcomed the participants and expressed the importance of the training in carrying out research work. The topics for the training were identified and six modules were prepared accordingly. The modules contained information on basic statistics and nutrition including frequently used terminologies to review the training held in 2021. Additionally, modules covered the difference between qualitative and quantitative research, steps to carry out surveys/studies, sampling, data collection, and data analysis. Towards the end of the training session, a number of statistical packages (WHOAnthro, WHOAnthro plus, and ENA (Emergency Nutrition Assessment) for SMART (Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions) to assess malnutrition were introduced.
The training concluded on a positive note with participants expressing a desire to strengthen their ability to analyze data with a solid understanding of statistics and basic nutrition.
The closing session was jointly attended by Dr. Thanongsai Soukkhamthat and Mr. Vilon Viphon. Dr. Soukkhamthat appreciated the engagement of participants and welcomed their suggestions for future training sessions.
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Advocacy for Public Financing for Children – Nutrition in Lao PDR
As part of the policy influencing process and advocacy for Public Financing for Children – Nutrition, the Policy Analysis Unit (PAU) of the National Information Platforms on Nutrition (NIPN) organized a dissemination workshop in Luangprabang on 19th July 2022 to allow a dialogue on existing research findings on malnutrition.
The goal of the workshop was to inform policymakers, such as national and provincial assembly officials, of undernutrition issues facing children, adolescents, and women, and to contribute to evidence-based prioritization, planning, and budgeting at all government administrative levels.
The workshop was jointly opened by H.E. Dr. Kikeo Chanthabury, Vice-President of LASES and former Convener of NIPN Advisory Committee, Mr. Vongsavanh Thebphachanh, President of the Provincial Assembly of Luangprabang, and Dr. Pia Britto, UNICEF Representative to Lao PDR.
Attendees included high-level policymakers from the 8 provinces in the northern region (Phongsaly, Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, Bokeo, Houaphanh, Xiengkhuang, Luangprabang, and Xaysomboun), as well as representatives from Provincial Department of Health and District Health Office in Luangprabang.
The evidence and findings disseminated with attendees included four studies carried out by the PAU of the SPRI and the Data Analysis Unit (DAU) of the Development Research Institute (DRI) under the NIPN initiative.
The four studies presented were (1) The Economic Consequences of Malnutrition in Lao PDR, (2) Qualitative assessment of the determinants of malnutrition with cases studies in four selected provinces, (3) Multi-sectoral approach and coordination on nutrition in Lao PDR, and (4) Determinants of stunting among children under 5 years old in Lao PDR.
Attendees were also introduced to the interactive web-based dashboard that had been developed to help track nutrition results and investments in the country.
The dissemination workshop deepened policymakers’ understanding of malnutrition deprivations facing children, adolescents, and women, and solicited their support in addressing these inequities. This included advocating for increased public financing for children, especially for improving the nutrition situation among children and women.
Sound bites/quotations from participants;
- “LDC status comes with many burdens that impact nutrition”
- “We need to change attitude towards food – government has to do this research to change the attitude”
- “Nutrition is not just food. Nutrition is good quality food”
- “Asking for more financial/grant support from the project to the Provinces may not be as smart as asking for more lessons and deeper research”
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