Goal 1: No poverty

Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/Silvia Jundt

End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Eradicating poverty in all its forms remains one of the greatest challenges facing humanity. While the number of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by more than half – from 1.9 billion in 1990, to 836 million in 2015 – too many are still struggling for the most basic human needs.

Lao PDR has halved its national poverty rate over the past decade, from 46% in 1992 to 23% in 2015. Household welfare also improved in terms of ownership of assets, condition of housing and access to services. Some 56 percent of poor households now own mobile phones, 50 percent own a television and 63 percent own a motor bike. Over the same period, access to electricity among poor households increased by 18.5 percentage points to 58.7 percent.

However, poverty reduction and consumption growth lag behind the country’s GDP growth. International comparisons show that compared to some neighbouring countries, Lao PDR’s consumption has lagged behind its high economic growth. From 2007/08 to 2012/13, Lao PDR’s annualized growth in real per capita consumption was 2 percent, which lagged behind the rate of per capita GDP growth by 4 percentage points.

The growth in consumption has benefited the richer quintiles more than the poorer segments of the population. The poverty rate in rural areas is 2.9 times that of the urban areas. One-third of the population in upland areas is still below the poverty line, while in lowland areas, about one-fifth of the population is poor (18.8 percent). Ethnicity and education also play determinant roles. Inequality has increased, notably within urban areas. 

Poverty reduction is a priority on the national agenda. The overall goal in the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan includes reduced poverty, graduation from Lest Developed Country status, and sustained and inclusive growth as desired outcomes. The 8th Plan also aims to achieve balanced regional and local development, and improved living standards. 

Ending poverty is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals.

Learn more about the targets for Goal 1.

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More about our work in poverty reduction in Lao PDR

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