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UNDP in Lao PDR works with the Government to build on the impressive progress in economic growth and poverty reduction that has been made over the past two decades. The proportion of poor people has dropped from 46 percent in 1992 to 27.6 percent of the population today and annual growth rates have averaged nearly 8% over the past 5-years.
However, these achievements have been accompanied by widening gaps between rich and poor, women and men, ethnic groups, and residents of different regions of the country. Poverty and near-poverty remain widespread in rural areas, standing at nearly twice the rate of that in urban areas. Ensuring that growth is achieved with equity and benefits poor people is central to UNDP’s role in assisting the country with a smooth transition to middle-income status.
We work toward achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Government’s 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan 2011-2015 and Lao PDR’s aim to graduate from Least Developed Country status by 2020.
UNDP promotes effective, open decision making to improve governance in Lao PDR, supporting the Government’s strategic plan for effective governance through 2020. This is central to consolidating the impressive national development progress already achieved in many areas and ensuring that growth benefits all people in the country and does not harm the environment. We are committed to reduce the impact of unexploded ordnance (UXO) that continues to destroy lives and hinder development efforts.
UNDP’s strategic role as co-chair of the Round Table, with the government, is resulting in international donors’ priorities and financing becoming more closely aligned with national development goals. The Round Table Process effectively identifies key development focus areas and directs necessary resources to meet those needs. For example, as a result of attention by the Round Table Process, the Government has developed a multi-sectoral nutrition plan, committed to provide a free maternal health care package and is more closely reviewing the quality of foreign direct investment.
With UNDP assistance, Government service delivery is improving at the national, provincial and district levels. People in 35 districts in five of the country’s poorest provinces are taking development into their own hands following UNDP’s investment in 286 small-scale local infrastructure projects. One-Door Service centres across the country ensure faster, more effective and more open delivery of services such as land or business registration.
The first community radio station in Khoun district, Xieng Khouang Province, led to 70 percent more women in the district using health facilities when pregnant and 50 percent more women, particularly from the Hmong ethnic group, now vaccinating their children. The Government and UNDP are looking to establish community radios in the country’s 47 poorest districts.
Parliamentarians are engaging more with the Lao people through outreach missions to districts and villages, assisted by expert teams that make use of coordination support from UNDP to National Assembly committees. As a result of one outreach mission, the National Assembly and relevant Ministries are drafting a law on gender-based violence that is expected to be passed in late 2011. The Legal Sector Master Plan, drafted with support from UNDP, is the key instrument to ensure a ‘rule of law state’ is realized by 2020.
With natural resources coming under increasing pressure, a set of poverty-environment indicators has been developed for monitoring and evaluating the 7TH national development plan, showing linkages with high policy relevance for Lao PDR: land use management for sustainable development; food security; forest and trees; environmental pollution control/waste management; and natural disasters.
The National Investment Strategy, planned with UNDP technical assistance, acts as a guide for promoting and selecting quality investments in natural resources that do not harm the environment. The Small Grants Programme shows that small-scale investments in natural resource management and biodiversity conservation can have long-lasting impact if communities are involved, as well as contributing to the development of civil society.
The UXO programme has been tackling the deadly legacy of war since 1996. More than 25,000 hectares of land – equivalent to 250 square kilometres – have been cleared and more than 1 million items of UXO destroyed. This increases the safety of people in nearby communities and expands the amount of land available for food production and other development activities.
The Resident Coordinator heads the UN system in Lao PDR and is the Resident Representative for UNDP in the country. Our Resident Representative is assisted by two Deputies, one for Programmes and one for Operations. The Resident Coordinator is supported by the Head of the RC Office for UN matters.
UNDP Lao PDR works closely with the Government of Lao PDR, through its designated UN division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All activities falling within the Country Programme Action Plan 2012 – 2015 are nationally owned. These programmes are reflected in the UN Development Assistance Framework Action Plan 2012 – 2015 that includes the overall UN development assistance to Lao PDR over the coming four years. .