Early years in life have a profound impact on a child’s future. When loved, nourished and cared for in safe and stimulating environments, children develop the knowledge and skills they need to embrace opportunity and bounce back from adversity.
Over the past decade, Lao PDR has witnessed significant improvements in both health and social outcomes for children, and the country is making steady progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Nevertheless, challenges still exist for Lao children.
27% of under 5-year-olds are underweight, and 36% are stunted; child mortality remains high at 88 deaths per 1,000 live births, and immunization coverage remains low; over three quarters of children aged 2 to 14 years are subject to at least one form of psychological or physical aggression from an adult in their household; and almost 40% of the population has no sanitation facilities. Approximately 70% of 5-year-old children do not have Early Childhood Education (ECE) opportunities.
Furthermore, aggregate data hide substantial geographical, gender, social and ethnic disparities. Children from rural areas, girls, and children from non-Lao-Thai ethnic communities continue to fare more poorly than other children, across health, nutrition, education and protection indicators. Limited access to information and services, social and cultural norms, and economic constraints are some of the key contributing factors.