Saravane 16th September 2014 – Food and Nutrition Security, among other off-track Millennium Development Goals, continued to be on top of the discussion agenda at this year’s provincial Round Table consultation meeting, held in Saravane from 15th to 17th of September.
More than 100 Government officials and development partners took part in the meeting to review the progress made since last year’s consultations in Luang Namtha, which resulted in the development of a multisectoral food and nutrition security action plan to address malnutrition in the country. The provincial consultation is a part of the Round Table Process and a key milestone leading up to the annual Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM).
The meeting in Saravane was co-chaired by the Governor of Saravane province, H.E. Mr. Khamboune Duangpangna, H.E. Mr. Somdy Douangdy, Minister of Planning and Investment and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
Speaking at the meeting, H.E. Somdy Douangdy expressed his concern for children’s malnutrition nationwide, especially in the rural areas. “I highly value this consultation as a platform to generate ideas and efforts to tackle the malnutrition issue”, he said, and urged for collective support from both the Government and development partners to help provinces to attain their development targets, including implementing the multisectoral food- and nutrition security action plan.
“Malnutrition is the most complicated and most seriously off-track Millennium Development Goal for Lao PDR”, said Ms. Kaarina Immonen. “It is important to hear local perspectives to understand the challenges they face with this issue, and to link these discussions with the national Round Table dialogue”, she said. The participants in the three-day meeting included central and local-level government officials including representatives from the Southern and two Northern provinces (Oudomxay and Luang Namtha), international development partners as well as national non-profit associations.
Saravane is one of the three pilot provinces where the multisectoral food- and nutrition security action plan is currently being implemented. The approach aims to bring together various ministries, line-ministries and departments, both at national and local levels, to prioritise and coordinate food and nutrition-related interventions. The consultation meeting included site visits to see local food- and nutrition-related projects, providing an opportunity for the participants to see the impact of the convergence approach at local level.
The ultimate goal of the action plan is to see a decline in the high rates of malnutrition in order for the country to achieve the MDG 1 (Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger) by end of 2015 and beyond. Currently, up to 44% of Lao children under five years suffer from stunting due to malnutrition.
The lessons and recommendations from the Round Table provincial consultation will be presented at the Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM), set to take place in November in Vientiane. The Round Table Process presents a unique platform to promote collaboration, coordination and mutual understanding between the Government of Lao PDR and development partners by stimulating substantive dialogue on the country’s development agenda, while strengthening development effectiveness. With support from UNDP, the Lao PDR has participated in the Round Table Process since 1983.