New survey sheds light on drivers of malnutrition among children in Phongsaly

Oct 12, 2023

Phongsaly, 3 October 2023 – The Lao Statistics Bureau recently shared the results from its first-ever provincial household survey on children with authorities of Phongsaly   to support the province’s efforts to address malnutrition among children. In a landmark initiative, the Lao Statistics Bureau has partnered with the European Union and UNICEF for the first-ever provincial household survey, which provides data at the district level that will help authorities understand the underlying drivers of malnutrition to inform better nutrition policies. Four provinces have been selected for the survey, including Bokeo, Houaphanh, Phongsaly and Saravanh.

“I thank the European Union and UNICEF  for  their  support  with  this  survey,  which provides  us  with  valuable  data  to  paint  a  more  complete  picture  of  the  nutritional situation of children in the province,” said Mr. Thongsouk Paosouly, Director General of Planning and Investment of Phongsaly. Speaking at the dissemination meeting for the survey results, he also cautioned that while good progress has been made to address malnutrition in the province, further efforts are needed.”

According to the survey results, 42.4 per cent of children in Phongsaly aged 6-59 months are stunted while  21  per  cent  remain  underweight.  The survey  in  Phongsaly  was conducted in all seven districts of the province and a total of 1539 households across 76 villages were sampled.

“This is the first time UNICEF and the Lao Statistics Bureau have conducted a provincial household survey to generate district disaggregated data with the express purpose of informing  programmes  related  to  children’s  well-being,  including  in  the  area  of nutrition,” explained Mme Phonesaly Souksavath, President of the Lao Statistics Bureau.

Lao PDR’s nutrition programmes are guided by the National Nutrition Strategy (NNS) 2016-2025, and the second National Plan of Action for Nutrition (NPAN II) 2021-2025. These documents guide multi-sectoral nutrition actions across various sectors such as agriculture, health and education.

The findings of a qualitative assessment that was jointly conducted by the Development Research  Institute  and  the  Lao  Academy  for  Social  and  Economic  Sciences  (LASES) under  the  NIPN  initiative  was  also  disseminated.  It  sheds  light  on  the  drivers  of malnutrition in the Phongsally for evidence-based decisions and interventions.

While current macroeconomic and climate trends have put constraints on food security and  nutrition,  it  is  encouraging  to  note  that  the  government  and  partners,  including UNICEF,  remain  steadfast  in  our  shared  commitment  to  alleviating  these  burdens,” remarked  Mr.  Arturo  Romboli,  Deputy  Representative,  UNICEF  Lao  PDR.  “As UNICEF marks its 50th year  of  cooperation  with  the  Government  of  Lao  PDR  this  year,  we reiterate our firm commitment to the children of this country.”