FAO: Healthy diets vital for progress in Lao PDR

FAO kids agricuThe UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have concluded a joint visit to the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) with a call for greater investment in nutrition

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and WFP Executive Director David Beasley made the three-day visit, together with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)'s Sub-regional Director Thomas Rath, to raise awareness about the importance of integrated food systems to improve food and nutrition security.

Lao PDR has made good progress over the past twenty years in reducing poverty and hunger, but malnutrition remains an obstacle to the country's aim of becoming a middle-income country.

Stunting affects around one-third of children aged under five, and rural areas are worst affected. Improving access to healthy, diversified diets is vital to improving nutrition.

During their visit, Graziano da Silva and Beasley met the Lao PDR Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Agriculture.

The delegation also visited several sites in the country's northern Oudomxay Province which is part of a large joint food security and nutrition programme, agriculture for nutrition.

“This project is an excellent example of the three UN agencies building on one another's strengths to work with governments, donors and other partners to maximize our impacts on the ground towards improved food and nutrition security in rural areas,” said Rath.

The programme is being implemented to help boost nutrition in rural areas, in a joint collaboration between FAO, IFAD and WFP and with the Government of Lao PDR and other partners.

Under the programme, FAO is working with farmers to increase their incomes from livestock so they can afford more-nutritious food for their families. This is alongside FAO's work to encourage rice farmers to raise fish in their rice paddies to provide both extra income and a nutritious source of protein. FAO's Farmer Field Schools also help family farmers increase productivity for better food and nutrition security.

The three UN food agencies are working with the government and people of Lao PDR to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) including Zero Hunger. Strong collaboration is crucial to sustainable development.

Working closely together, FAO, IFAD and WFP are making a difference in the lives and livelihoods of vulnerable people in many countries and regions around the world. The agencies build on one another's strengths and work with governments, donors and other partners to maximise their impacts.

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