UNICEF in Lao PDR
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children. The Lao PDR country office is promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child. Together with partners we are focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children throughout the country.
Economic growth since the 1990s has reduced poverty levels, but Lao PDR only ranks 138 out of 186 nations in the 2013 UNDP Global Human Development Index. About 50 per cent of the population is below 18 years of age and 80% live in rural areas where infrastructure is poor and where most people are engaged in subsistence farming.
Although the country is making progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals, there are stark inequities based on ethnicity, gender, education levels of mothers and wealth quintiles.
Particularly vulnerable are the non-Lao Thai ethnic communities who live in remote, hilly rural areas where there are no roads and the land is contaminated with unexploded ordnance. Lao PDR is the world’s most heavily bombed country.
The UNICEF Lao PDR country office works across a variety of areas to help ensure child survival and promote child rights. Working with the Lao Government, UN agencies, civil society and international NGOs, UNICEF works across health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation and child protection sectors with the aim of realising the rights of every child.
The country is also vulnerable to seasonal, extreme climatic events such as annual river floods, flash floods and landslides, rodent infestation and related animal and human epidemics. Such events have devastating impacts on rural households dependent on natural resources for their income and food security.