WFP Lao PDR Country Brief, March 2020

Situation Report
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In Numbers

US$ 1.15 million six-month (Apr-Sep 2020) net funding requirements

137,318 mt of food distributed

99,183 people assisted

Operational Updates

Since 24 March, WFP has suspended physical presence of all staff at the field-level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and activities are conducted remotely or postponed. WFP is coordinating with other UN agencies and partners on assessing the potential impact of COVID-19 - particularly for food security - and preparing for a possible response. Despite this context, the following activities were conducted in March:

• With active follow-up from WFP, the USD 657,000 (LAK 5.9 billion) allocated by the Ministry of Education and Sports to the 821 schools in the eight provinces that are part of the national school meals programme has now been fully transferred to the respective provinces. Schools that have yet to receive the funds will have the cash transferred to them after schools re-open.

• The Prime Minister’s decree to integrate school meals into the national budget was revised by the Ministry of Education and Sports, with support from WFP. The decree is now ready to be presented more broadly to different government sectors.

• In Sanamxay District in Attapeu Province, WFP’s village nutrition plans were completed and approved. Under these plans, WFP intended to complete the construction of groundwater systems and rice banks in April. However, delays are foreseen as field activities become impossible as a result of COVID-19.

• WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations received confirmation that their joint proposal was approved by the French Alimentary Aid Program. WFP will implement cash assistance and resilient recovery of flood-affected communities in southern Lao PDR, through creating assets that enable villagers adapt better to climate change. Through the USD 362,000 oneyear intervention, WFP aims to support 16,500 beneficiaries (8,100 women) from 3,000 households.

• During 10-13 March 2020, WFP and FAO conducted a joint monitoring mission to assess the implementation of a pilot project on providing climate services to five schools in Salavan Province. Through discussions with teachers, students and parents, it was found that weekly bulletins are proving to be useful in furthering students’ understanding of weather, climate, and the use of the agrometeorological information. However, the mission found that there is room for improvement in transmitting the knowledge from students to parents.

• WFP has published its Farmer Nutrition School Household Impact Survey. According to it, 76 percent of the women who participated in the farmer nutrition sessions perceived that their nutrition status improved.

• After three months of food delivery for 40 community rice banks in Kaluem and Sanamxai Districts of Attapeu Province, WFP is continuing to provide technical support for the village management committees to ensure that regulations are properly applied. About 40 percent of all rice banks have already disbursed and repaid three-month loans, 50 percent have pending loans, and 10 percent are in the process of disbursement. WFP is planning to provide training and hermetically sealed rice bags for each village in order to ensure long-lasting rice quality.

• The Government is formulating a new National Plan of Action on Nutrition (2021-2025). WFP will support the Ministry of Education and Sports and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in their respective sector plan formulation process.