Switzerland extends support to improve nutrition in Laos

Press releases, 11.01.2021

A Memorandum of Understanding for the second phase of the Enhancing Nutrition of Upland Farming Families (ENUFF) Project is signed by Dr Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director General of the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion of the Ministry of Health and Dr Allert van den Ham, Country Director of SNV – Netherlands Development Organisation in Laos, Bangladesh and Myanmar on 9 January 2021. The government of Switzerland has committed 6.8 million USD through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to implement the project in Oudomxay and Houaphan provinces. The ENUFF II will run from signing date until June 2024.

Home Gardening in Laos. ©ENUFF/SDC.
Home Gardening in Laos. ©ENUFF/SDC. ©ENUFF/SDC.

The project will build upon the successes made in Phase I and aims to improve family nutrition in remote and ethnically diverse upland farming communities through improved feeding, caregiving and dietary practices; reduced incident of water, sanitation and hygiene related diseases; nutrition sensitive agriculture; and a more conducive policy and institutional environment.

The project has made a remarkable progress in Phase I based on a neutral external review.  The overall prevalence of stunting has decreased from 42% in 2016 to 38% in 2020 in project target villages.  The percentage of households with improved sanitation facilities has increased from 75% in 2016 to 92% in 2020 resulting in a decrease of the percentage of children age 6 – 23 months that are reported to have had diarrhoea within the last two weeks from 24% in 2016 to 11% in 2020.  20% of farming families reported to have applied four new nutritious food crops and the percentage of households selling food crops increased from 28% to 65%.

The National Nutrition Center of the Ministry of Health will continue to host the project with technical support of SNV Netherlands Development Organisation aiming at implementing an innovative and scalable multisectoral nutrition project in Oudomxay and Houaphan provinces. ENUFF II is in line with the National Nutrition Strategy and the Upland Development Strategy.

Mr. Christian Engler, Deputy Director of SDC Mekong Region highlighted the key achievements made in Phase I of the project and pleased to extend similar amount of additional funding for Phase II of the Project. He would like the project to put more emphasis on capacity building, increase ownership and sustain the achievement made in Phase I. Dr. Allert van den Ham, Country Director, SNV Laos thanked both the donor and government for their commitment and excellent contribution to able to support the target communities in improving their nutrition condition and livelihood.

Dr. Phonepaseuth Ounaphom, Director General of Department of Health and Hygiene Promotion as a chairperson of the signing ceremony, expressed his gratitude to the donor, Switzerland government, especially Mr. Christian and Dr. Allert for seeing the importance of issues in nutritional needs of community and family nutrition and thus continue to provide supports in combating with the issue to improve the family nutrition status and condition in the our target areas.

Under-nutrition leads to enormous economic costs in Lao PDR. Current rates of maternal and child malnutrition represent a loss of human capital potentially costing the Lao PDR an estimated 2.4 percent of the GDP annually. In recognition of the persistently high rates of malnutrition in the country, the Government has shown strong commitment to address the root causes by implementing the National Nutrition Strategy to 2025 and the Plan of Action 2016-2025, which provides the framework and strategic direction to combat malnutrition.