Goal 1: No poverty
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.
As highlighted by recent World Bank and ADB reports, while the economy of Lao PDR continued to grow at a fast pace of around 7.5%, poverty reduction and consumption lag behind GDP and inequalities are increasing, in particular within urban, and between urban and rural areas. However, the gap in access to basic public services has narrowed over the years.
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 86 percent of poor households now own mobile phones, 77 percent own a television and 80 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.
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.
All UN agencies present in Lao PDR have the common goal of reducing poverty in the country, some through grass-roots work, others on the policy level, or both.