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Switzerland and UNICEF join hands to support nutritional needs of families affected by 2008 Mekong floods

The Lao PDR Country Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mr Martin Sommer, and UNICEF Representative Laila Ismail-Khan , shake hands / sign documents at the ceremony in Vientiane.

Vientiane, May 15 2009 - Funding provided by the government of Switzerland will provide an important boost to the nutritional status of children and mothers affected by last August’s Mekong floods, according to an agreement signed in Vientiane today.

The funds -– totaling US$ 700,000 -- were provided in response to a joint United Nations appeal issued in the aftermath of the disaster.

The money will provide for the procurement and delivery of nutritional supplements for some 35,000 mothers and children from poor families in ten provinces which were worst-hit when the floods destroyed homes, agricultural land and livelihoods across northern and central parts of the country.

The signing ceremony took place at the Ministry of Health, in the presence of His Excellency Dr Ponmek Dalaloy.

In his remarks, the Country Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Mr Martin Sommer, pointed out that even if the floods occurred almost one year ago, their consequences are still very present for a significant proportion of the Lao population.

“With this contribution, and through the collaboration of both UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, we will be able to reach out the most affected communities particularly the young children, pregnant and lactating women, who remain in need of heath and nutrition assistance” said Mr. Sommer at the ceremony.

Speaking for UNICEF, the agency which will administer the funding, Representative Laila Ismail-Khan said that while the efforts of government and international donors had done much to alleviate the immediate effects of the floods, the onset of the global economic crisis had deepened the plight of many families.

“Families who lost homes and livelihoods are still trying to get their lives back on track. And undernourished children are more exposed to the threat of disease than ever,” said Ms Ismail-Khan. “There are real needs to be addressed.”

The Swiss funds will provide children aged 6-23 months with multi-micronutrient powder supplements, while pregnant women and lactating mothers will receive iron and folic acid tablets needed to maintain their health. Training for Ministry of Health staff who will deliver the assistance is covered, while communities will be mobilised to ensure that children most at risk of malnutrition are identified and helped.



UNICEF: Simon Ingram, Chief of Communication Tel: + 856 20 551 9681
Tabongphet Phouthavong, Communication Specialist Tel + 856 20 551 9682

SDC, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Tel + 856 251 794




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