Vientiane, 2 November 2018 – Despite considerable progress, children in Lao PDR continue to experience significant levels of deprivation, according to the report ‘SDGs and Children – Measuring Progress on Child Wellbeing in Lao PDR’ presented today. Only 12 per cent of children experience no deprivation at all, while about 70 per cent of children under 18 years of age suffer at least two deprivations in the areas of nutrition, health, education, Early Childhood Development (ECD), child protection, water, sanitation, housing and information. 50 per cent of children are suffering from 3 or more deprivations at the same time.
The report that uses the Lao Social Indicator Survey II (LSIS II) as its main data source captures the current situation of unmet needs and rights of children in Lao PDR and shows the commitment of the Government to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Lao PDR continues to be an international pioneer in prioritizing an understanding the situation of its children through evidence-based, child-sensitive analysis. These actions reflect Lao PDR’s commitment to the international Sustainable Development agenda as well as the national poverty reduction agenda, both components of national ambitions for LDC graduation by 2024,” said Dr. Kikeo Chanthabouly, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment at the launch event.
According to the report, for the 0 to 4 years age group of children, at least one third of children are deprived in all dimensions, ranging from 33 per cent in water to 94 per cent in ECD. Children in the age group 5 to 10 years have high rates of deprivation particularly in sanitation and housing, but the majority are meeting the standards of attendance and achievement in school, and have access to information devices. These results are similar for children age 11 to 17 years. However, among these children, 41 per cent are either not attending basic schooling or have not achieved the correct level of schooling for their age.
The report also highlights the critical situation that stunted children face – 33 per cent in the 0 to 4 years age group. Stunted children have also a higher rate of deprivation in all dimensions and have a higher deprivation intensity and overlap than not stunted children.
The geographical distribution of the multidimensionally deprived children is not uniform across the country. At the provincial level, the highest rates of multidimensional deprivation are concentrated in the provinces of Savannaketh, Saravane, Sekong, as well as Xaysomboun. The lowest rates of multidimensional poverty, in terms of both incidence and intensity are in Vientiane Capital.
“Lao PDR has ratified both the Convention of the Rights of the Child and committed to the achievement of the SDGs by 2030. This study will help to track progress against goals and targets while setting a baseline for child poverty with the ultimate aim of reducing it by at least half. If we are to graduate from the LDC status, progress in reducing multidimensional poverty rate has to be monitored to ensure that gains are being made in the right direction,” stated Mr. Anouparb Vongnorkeo, Director General, Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Facing numerous deprivations during childhood and even adolescence can have irreversible effects on the productivity and social participation of those children. Alleviating the severity of deprivation among these children today will contribute enormously towards the economic growth and overall productivity level of the country for a better and more prosperous Lao PDR.
“Investing in understanding who the poor children are, and what the nature of their poverty is will inform policies and programming to sustainably alleviate poverty on the path towards generating human capital development and economic growth in Lao PDR. It is necessary to make the correct investments in children today, to maximise the cognitive and human capital of Lao PDR’s ‘generation 2030’, who will be the drivers of economic and social development in a country that is subject to rapidly changing labour market conditions,” stated Octavian Bivol, UNICEF Representative.
Urgently providing children with their basic needs, fulfilling their rights, and prioritizing national budgets to reflect these child-sensitive interventions, is both a humanitarian and socioeconomic priority.
Note to Editors
The current analysis uses the UNICEF Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis toolbox to describe and unpack the situation of multidimensional child poverty in Lao PDR, with sensitivity to children’s lifecycle-specific and contextualized needs and rights. An understanding of children’s multidimensional poverty and deprivation complements existing knowledge on monetary poverty based on household income in Lao PDR based on international poverty lines.
The multidimensional poverty study measures whether children have actual access to essential goods and services, irrespective of their financial resources, and whether all their needs are met and rights are fulfilled. The study not only reveals the dimensions of well-being children are deprived of, but also how these deprivations might be interrelated (overlap), and who the most vulnerable subgroups of children are.
After discussions with Lao national partners and consideration of internationally agreed definitions of the rights and needs of the child, the dimensions and indicators reflecting the well-being of the Lao child were decided. Given that children’s needs vary different stages of life, different dimensions are used for different age groups of children. The final age groups analysed were: 0-4 years; 5-10 years; and 11-17 years. For children aged 0-4 years, the dimensions are nutrition, health, early childhood development (ECD), child protection, water, sanitation and housing. For children aged 5-17 years, the dimensions analysed were nutrition, education, child protection, water, sanitation, housing and information. Although dimensions are sometimes common between age groups, the way they are constructed at the indicator level differs between age groups to reflect a more accurate picture of child well-being.
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