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Lao PDR, UNICEF Embark on a New Five-Year Country Programme of Cooperation

The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and UNICEF on Oct 19 officially launched the new Government of the Lao PDR and UNICEF Country Programme Document 2022-2026 (CPD).

The event was attended virtually by high level government officials of several ministries and government institutions and was chaired by Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Phonevanh Outhavong, and co-chaired by UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR Pia Rebello Britto.

In attendance was also Vice Minister of Education and Sports Sisouk Vongvichith, Vice Minister of Health Sanong Thongsana, Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Leepao Yang, and Vice President of the Lao Women’s Union Sirikit Boupha, who each presented their statement of commitment to the CPD and the realization of the rights and wellbeing of all children in the Lao PDR.

Representatives and ambassadors of key development partners also attended the event. In total, about 160 participants expressed their support to this process and to the new CPD for the children of the country.

The Government of Laos – UNICEF CPD is the articulation of a vision and achievable goals for children of this country. It takes into consideration the situation of children, their needs and rights and builds on the successes achieved in the past years to tackle a new generation of challenges to achieve results for every child, in particular the most vulnerable.

“The new CPD will contribute towards the realization of our vision that by 2026 more children and women in the Lao PDR, particularly the most vulnerable and at risk, will have their rights realized so that they can survive, develop to their full potential and live in a safer environment. The rationale for this is even greater when we consider the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the extent to which it has disrupted the lives of families and children and further fueling poverty,” said Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Phonevanh Outhavong in her opening statement to the event.

This collaboration framework which was developed through an inclusive and participatory process involving extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders, will support programme strategies towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Lao children while helping to address key deprivations children face, including those associated with health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and social protection.

The CPD is also aligned with the priorities of the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and outlines UNICEF’s specific contributions in this regard across a range of programme areas.

“Since UNICEF first established its presence in the Lao PDR in 1973, we have worked through many country programmes with the Government of the Lao PDR and I strongly believe that the launch of the new country programme for 2022-2026 will further enhance UNICEF’s work and partnerships to improve the lives and well-being of every woman and child in the country,” remarked UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR Pia Rebello Britto, who also highlighted that despite the progress done, inequity still shapes the life course of a baby born in the Lao PDR, even before birth. “This is why equity has been one of the core principles that have guided the development of the CPD.”

To achieve the vision for the rights and well-being of Lao women and children by 2026, the new CPD will have a special emphasis on systems strengthening, which was a key lesson learned from the previous country programme, especially as the Lao PDR moves toward graduating from least developed country status.

To put the agenda for children at the centre, UNICEF will work closely with a wide range of actors, including children and youth through advocacy and communication approaches. UNICEF will continue to act as a leading voice for, with and about children, adolescents and youth and will expand engagement with the private sector, extending government partnerships beyond the social sectors.

This new CPD also puts emphasis on climate action with the understanding that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis. Climate change arguably poses the single greatest challenge to the realisation of children’s rights and threatens to undercut decades of hard-won progress to improve their lives. Thus, there will be a focus on ensuring systems across sectors are more resilient and able to effectively respond to climate change. And keeping in mind that children’s voices on this and other issues have to be heard, UNICEF will enhance their engagement in programming, particularly on climate action; promoting community and national dialogue on climate action wherein children and youth are empowered to participate in the conversation and be heard.

Source: Lao News Agency