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    Lao PDR

Project Details

This project is in direct response to the recognised negative long-term development implications of under-nutrition for individuals, households and communities, and the fact that Laos records the highest rates of under-nutrition in South East Asia.

Our project targets the provinces recording rates of under nutrition that are significantly higher than the national average of 44% (including 61% of boys and 53% of girls under 5 are stunted within one of the project areas of Saravan province). The integration of Maternal Newborn and Child Health & Nutrition (MNCH-N) and hygiene interventions aligns with global evidence that such combined investments are essential and more successful in achieving optimal nutritional outcomes than investment in one of these approaches alone.

Our project design and intended outcomes have been informed by a detailed situation analysis of the causes and determinants of poor nutrition in rural Laos, and through consultations with communities, civil society organisations (known as NPAs) and government stakeholders at the sub- national level. As well as always including our beneficiaries insights and knowledge to inform our work.

Project Overview

Over the lifetime of this project Plan will work with and through government, non-government and community stakeholders to deliver an integrated Maternal Newborn and Child Health & Nutrition (MNCH-N) project in two provinces to achieve a number of impacts.

Project goals include:

  1. Reduction of stunting in girls and boys aged 0-23 months.
  2. Improved nutrition among women in 48 communities in Oudomxay and Saravan provinces by 2019. This is based on an increased percentage of pregnant and breast feeding women consuming food from at least 4 food groups
  3. Improved nutrition and hygiene conditions in 89 villages across Saravan and Oudomxay provinces; In Oudomxay this equates to 13,000 people. In Saravan this equates to 21,210 people

This project will also educate the community on the integral role of parents, especially mothers, in promoting improved nutrition of pregnant and lactating women, and the developing and newborn child through breastfeeding, particularly in the first six months of life.

We also seek to identify and address a number of the social determinants, attitudes and practices impacting on women’s and children’s health, well-being and nutrition, such as household decision- making for procurement of nutritious food, workloads of women during pregnancy and opportunities to access antenatal care services.

Projects such as this represent great sustainability as it invests in building the skills and knowledge of government and local civil society, allowing for future replication of project activities.

What's Covered in Project Costs

Key activities include:

  • Training 33 (19 women; 14 men) health centre staff, including midwives, in 'puern tae' methodology - providing clean, safe, respectful care around the time of birth, and Early Essential Newborn Care (EENC).
  • Mapping existing stakeholder commitments in nutrition-sensitive and nutrition-specific interventions against the 22 priority actions in the National Nutrition Strategy (NNS).
  • Implementing monitoring tools in 9 communities across Saravan and Oudomxay provinces to track outcomes and improve service delivery.
  • Resources required to deliver Nutrition activities (including cooking demonstrations, growth monitoring, health and nutrition education) undertaken in 24 communities in Saravan and Oudomxay (approximately 480 people - estimated 72 men, 168 women, 120 boys and 120 girls).

Partners and Community 

It takes a tribe of partners and community support to deliver effective outcomes to our beneficiaries. Some of these include:

Government partners form multi-disciplinary (including health workers) Health Teams, while in Oudomxay Province the local NPA (civil society organisations) Promotion of Family Health Association are an additional project partner. Plan Laos provides training and mentoring to Health Teams at sub-national level and with the local NPA partner which enhance the skills of midwives and health workers to deliver improved, safer and respectful antenatal, delivery and post-natal care services.

Trained sub-national Health Teams and the NPA will engage and facilitate children, adults of reproductive age and elderly women and men through a community-led Village Health Development Plan (VHDP) process to identify, prioritise, plan and promote optimal growth and development actions for children in their first 1,000 days.

Plan, government stakeholders and health workers will provide technical and material support for communities, and especially women of reproductive age (15-49 years), to implement their VHDPs and to develop positive individual and household health-seeking practices, hygiene, feeding, early stimulation practices and nutrition ahead of and during pregnancy, as well as immediately after delivery and in the early years of children’s lives.

Part of a Larger Strategy

The Project aligns with the Government of Laos Multi-Sectoral National Food and Nutrition Security Action Plan 2016-2020 (NFSAP) through its multi-sectoral and collaborative approach with stakeholders at the provincial and district levels, and through its facilitation of community-driven action planning for improved health and nutrition. The Project will support delivery of 8 out of 14 of the NFSAP’s priority interventions for Health, including: promotion of, and counselling for, breastfeeding and infant young child feeding; food supplementation for pregnant and lactating women and children under 2 years; improved clinical management of acute malnutrition; growth monitoring for children under 5; and strengthened nutrition surveillance and reporting.

This project also aligns with DFAT’s priorities for Laos, particularly rural development and improving basic services for poor communities.

Plan Australia's Sustainability Outcomes

For Plan International Australia sustainability of our projects and the long term impact to the communities we serve is incredibly important to us, it also underpins our program design.

Sustainability outcomes for this project will be achieved through capacity development and appropriate interventions at various levels:

  • At community level: Participatory and inclusive Village Health Development Planning processes will ensure that interventions meet actual needs and are delivered in a way that is acceptable and effective for target beneficiaries, and builds an ongoing collective capacity to self-identify and address a community’s own needs.
  • At district and provincial levels: Understanding amongst government leaders of the value and potential of community-led action for health and development will be increased, encouraging them to support such community-led action in future. As well as developing the skills of local NPA that have long term commitments to remain operational within the project area (particularly in Oudomxay province).

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