Page 1

World Food Programme Lao PDR

Annual Report 2005

Table of Contents 2 4 5 7 8 11 15 18 21

Message from the WFP Representative A Snapshot of the Lao PDR WFP in the Lao PDR, 30 years of operation Year in Review Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping, identifying our beneficiaries School Feeding, encouraging education Development Food-for-Work, building a sustainable future Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation Partnerships, working together for a common cause

23 WFP Laos working with women 26 Logistics and Distribution, reaching our beneficiaries

28 Annexes


Message from the WFP Representative Sabaidee! Welcome to the first World Food Programme (WFP) Annual Report for the Lao PDR. Since taking on my assignment as the WFP Country Director and Representative in February 2005, I have been on many field visits to remote areas of Laos to talk to people who we assist. I have been deeply impressed by the contribution WFP food assistance makes to sustain and improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations and to facilitate children’s access to education. WFP has been operating in Laos for 30 years providing both emergency and development assistance. During this time we have developed a strong relationship with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the Ministry of Education, who are our main partners. In addition we strongly rely on the cooperation of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and development agencies. In 2005 we provided 6,872 metric tonnes of food to 282,248 men, women and children in the Lao PDR. In reaching poor, rural communities Laos presents unique challenges. The country is sparsely populated, with thousands of small, remote villages many of which are only accessible by river or on foot. Our performance therefore must not only be measured by the number of people we provide food assistance to but also the effort involved in reaching them. Through this report we would like to share with you some of the important work we have been doing in 2005. Some highlights include: • A new Basic Agreement was signed between WFP and the Government which reflects great support from the host country to our operations. • A new phase of assistance to primary school education began which foresees programme expansions in the northern provinces, as well as a new partnership with UNICEF, supported by AusAID, for harmonized assistance to primary schools. • The first contract awarded for the local production of corn-soya blend, the basis of the school feeding snack. • A new partnership with the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) was established to support clearing of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in areas where WFP supports food-for-work schemes. In closing I would like to thank our donors and partners for their commitment, generosity and cooperation. The WFP staff in the Lao PDR look forward to working with you in the years to come towards our shared development goals.

Christa Räder



WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005

A Snapshot of the Lao PDR


he beauty and tranquility of the landlocked, mountainous country of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) and the warm smiles of its people often make us forget that it is one of the poorest countries in the world. The economy is largely subsistence based, with 85% of the Lao PDR’s 5.6 million inhabitants living in rural areas, and significant parts of the country inaccessible by road. It is ethnically diverse, with the number of identified and recognised ethno-linguistic groups ranging from 49 to 230 with their own customs and languages. Health and literacy indicators of people living in remote areas of Laos are significantly lower than national averages, particularly for women. Chronic malnutrition is high, affecting more than 40% of children under five years of age. The rural economy is largely based on a single rain-fed rice crop which depends on the Southeast monsoon. Floods and droughts, pest infestations, environmental degradation, constraints to shifting cultivation, relocation to areas which do not offer sufficient land for paddy cultivation and the ban on opium production all impact on the ability of households to secure enough food throughout the year. In addition, small shocks such as the loss of labour due to illness can have an impact on a household’s vulnerability to food insecurity. In many cases children have to drop out of school in order to help their parents in the field and to take care of siblings.

Laos also has the misfortune of being the world’s most heavily bombed country. Two thirds of the country is still contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the Indo China War which continues to cause death and injury as well as deny the use of land for cultivation or grazing. The presence of UXO has a direct correlation to food insecurity as vast areas of land, particularly in remote places, remain unsafe for agricultural production.

LAOS AT A GLANCE Population: 5.6 m, with a growth rate of 2% per year Urban/Rural: 20/80% Yearly GDP per capita: US$427 Under-five malnutrition rate: 40% Adult literacy: 51.2% (Men: 60%, Women: 45%)* Net enrolment ratio: 82.5% (78.8% for girls)** Primary school completion rate: 56% Source: United Nations Common Country Assessment, Lao PDR 2005, unless otherwise stated *Lao National Literacy Survey 2001 ** The net enrolment ratio is the number of children of primary school age enrolled in primary school divided by the total population of the same age group


WFP in the Lao PDR,

30 years of operation

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the largest humanitarian aid agency in the world, with operations in 80 different countries. Our vision is a world where everyone has access to the nourishment they need for a full life. WFP began providing emergency assistance to the Lao PDR thirty years ago in response to floods and droughts. Since opening a Country Office in 2000, WFP has increasingly focused on development programmes aimed at strengthening rural livelihoods and improving primary school enrolment rates.






Who we help


We provide food aid for relief and development assistance to the poorest and most food insecure populations in rural Laos. Beneficiaries are identified through WFP’s Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) and include ethnic communities in poor, remote areas that experience long periods of rice shortage every year.





What we do WFP assists vulnerable people in Laos through three projects:

Development Project - Access to primary education for girls and boys which aims to increase school enrolment and attendance rates by providing nutritious mid-morning snacks and take-home rations for girls and informal boarders. Development Project - Assistance to food-insecure households in transition which aims to improve the food security and to strengthen the livelihoods of rural, ethnic communities who face serious food shortages due to the transition from shifting cultivation to more sustainable agricultural practices or from opium production to an alternative means of living. In exchange for food, households build productive assets such as roads, paddy land, fish ponds and irrigation channels. Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) Recovery assistance to disaster prone and vulnerable food insecure communities which aims to help those affected by recurrent floods and droughts rebuild their livelihoods and increase their resilience to future shocks. The PRRO has the flexibility to switch from relief to rehabilitation aid depending on the circumstances. Through these projects WFP assists the Government of the Lao PDR in working towards the achievement of the first three Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; and promoting gender equality and empowering women.








SINCE OPENING A COUNTRY OFFICE IN 2000, WFP HAS: • Launched a school feeding programme which has fed tens of thousands of primary school students every year in the remote provinces of Luangnamtha, Oudomxay and Phongsaly where enrolment rates are among the lowest in the country and the gender gap the highest; • Started nation-wide, food-for-work projects that resulted in the development of a wide range of community assets including hundreds of kilometres of rural roads giving the farming community access to markets and health facilities; • Responded to recurrent floods and droughts with emergency food relief operations including the major flood of 2000 when WFP launched an emergency operation involving US$2.5 million worth of food aid; • Undertaken detailed and comprehensive studies of poverty and household food security in rural Laos, which was reflected in the Government’s National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy 2004 and is used to guide WFP programming; and • Fostered partnerships with the Government of the Lao PDR, international NGOs, donors and other UN agencies for programme implementation and in support of UXO clearance.

WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005



Year in Review IN 2005 WFP: • Distributed 6,872 metric tonnes of food to 282,248 people

suffering from food shortages in 939 villages across 40 districts in 10 provinces and one special zone of the Lao PDR. The total value of 2005 operations was US$6.2 million; • Together with the National Disaster Management Office

(NDMO) took a lead role in briefing the donor community on the 2005 floods and preparing a coordinated response; • Released an updated District Vulnerability Analysis which

for the first time included a cluster analysis describing the patterns of vulnerability in Laos; • Undertook a baseline study as a first step towards

formally assessing the impact of WFP food-for-work activities in Laos; • Developed a partnership with UNICEF and AusAID for the

joint programming of WFP’s school feeding project and UNICEF’s water, sanitation and education programmes for primary schools; • Fostered a partnership with the Swiss Foundation for

Mine Action (FSD) for UXO clearance in WFP-assisted areas; • Awarded the first local contract for the production of

micronutrient fortified corn-soya blend (the basis of the school feeding mid-morning snack) helping to provide a fresh product to children and at the same time providing a market for local corn and soybean farmers; and • Expanded WFP’s presence in the field, opening new

offices in Xiengkhuang and Phongsaly Provinces to improve the implementation and monitoring of school feeding and food-for-work projects.

WFP BENEFICIARIES 2003-2005 Beneficiaries by year




250,000 200,000 150,000


100,00 50,000 0 2003



THE LAO GOVERNMENT GIVES WFP TOP AWARD FOR GROUNDBREAKING WORK In February 2005 the Government of the Lao PDR presented WFP’s outgoing Country Representative, Mr Malcolm Duthie with the Friendship Cross, the country’s highest possible award for a foreigner. At the award ceremony Lao Government officials praised the contribution Mr Duthie made as the WFP Representative in Laos, underlining that between 2000 and 2005 WFP had invested some US$50 million in emergency and development activities and assisted nearly 500,000 vulnerable people. Mr Duthie accepted the award on behalf of WFP and said he was especially proud of the boost WFP had been able to give to hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren in Laos.


WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005

Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping identifying our beneficiaries Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) is an information tool unique to WFP which generates, analyses and disseminates food security information to identify vulnerable groups and areas. It is guided by five fundamental questions: • • • • •

Who are the food insecure? Where do they live? How many are there? Why are they food insecure? Does food aid have a role to play?

In the Lao PDR, VAM guides WFP’s programming, ensuring that our assistance not only reaches those that need it most, but that it helps to strengthen their livelihoods by providing development programmes suited to their needs. In an effort to further improve our targeting, the VAM analysis was updated and refined during 2005 producing a clearer geographical picture of vulnerability at the district level. The addition of a cluster analysis added a further dimension to the overall map by highlighting groups of districts with similar vulnerability characteristics. The District Vulnerability Analysis shows that areas associated with food insecurity tend to be located in the mountainous north and along the border with Vietnam. They are characterized by low rice production and

livestock ownership, poor access to roads and thus markets, poor education levels and often a high concentration of UXO. It is in these areas, the most food-insecure, that WFP focuses its relief and development assistance. However it is not only WFP that benefits from this analysis. The VAM map is one of the few documents in the Lao PDR which highlights the relative vulnerability of a geographical area, and as a result many other organizations within the donor community are using it to help guide their programming.

Future direction In the Lao PDR specific information on the prevalence and underlying causes of food insecurity remains scarce. In 2006, WFP aims to conduct a comprehensive food security and vulnerability assessment which will more clearly identify the root causes of food insecurity in Laos as well as analyse the impact of food insecurity at the household level, clarify households’ livelihoods strategies, and identify communities’ coping mechanisms when shocks occur. Such activities will lead to improved targeting, helping to guide WFP’s food aid initiatives and further assist the Government in its goal of overcoming food insecurity.



COMPOSITE VULNERABILITY INDEX Better off Medium Vulnerable Very Vulnerable





Above: In normal conditions more than one third of the population of Laos experiences rice shortfalls for two to six months a year.

BUILDING GOVERNMENT CAPACITY As part of our commitment to building government capacity WFP provided training to Government staff in Global Information Systems and vulnerability analysis in 2003. Following this training, the Lao Government incorporated the WFP vulnerability analysis methodology in the design of the National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy (NGPES) which identified 47 priority districts for poverty alleviation.

CLUSTERS 1 2 3 4 5 6 7



















Cropping diversity








Livestock ownership








Access to forest areas








Access to roads and rivers








Malaria incidence








UXO impact








Incidence of low or no education








Rice production per capita

Lower level of vulnerability compared to national average

Similar value to national average

Higher level of vulnerability compared to national average

WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005



School Feeding

encouraging education

In 2005 WFP fed 55,174 schoolchildren including 25,367 girls in 663 primary schools across three of the poorest provinces of the Lao PDR Education situation in the Lao PDR In the Lao PDR many children never have the chance to go to primary school. Of the children that are enrolled, only 56 per cent successfully complete all five grades. For remote, rural areas, statistics are considerably worse. Girls, particularly from smaller ethnic groups, are often restricted from going to school by tradition, labour requirements and cost.

What is the school feeding project? In an effort to boost enrolment and primary completion rates, WFP, in partnership with the Ministry of Education (MoE), launched the school feeding project in 2002. The project targets the three remote northern provinces of Luangnamtha, Oudomxay and Phongsaly where enrolment, particularly for girls, and chronic malnutrition rates are among the worst in the country. The MoE is the main executing authority, providing District and Provincial Officers on the ground to implement and monitor the project. To motivate children to attend primary school regularly and improve their ability to concentrate, they are provided with a fortified corn-soya blend (CSB) snack, sweetened with sugar, every day. The fortification of the CSB helps address widespread deficiencies of micronutrients including iron, iodine and Vitamin A to support physical and mental development (see table right). Education for girls is one of WFP’s top priorities. In 2005, 25,367 girls also received a take-home family ration of rice and canned fish as an incentive for parents to send their daughters to school. In addition, more than 6,880 informal boarders (girls and boys), who must stay near the school in simple dormitories because their villages are too far away to return home at the end of the day, received rations of rice, canned fish and iodized salt. This keeps them from going to bed hungry and encourages them to continue their brave effort to complete their education so far from home. Results of the project are promising. The net enrolment ratio (NER)*1 in the targeted provinces has increased considerably from 60 to 73 percent in the first three years of the project. *

The net enrolment ratio is the number of children of primary school age (6-10 yrs) enrolled in primary school divided by the total population of the same age group.

Many children are going to school for the first time in the history of their communities. Most encouraging has been the contribution the project has made to the increased enrolment rate of girls. In the three assisted provinces the NER for girls has increased by 15 per cent from 53 per cent in 2002 to 68 per cent in 2005. The ratio of girls to boys in assisted schools has also improved and is now on par with the national average of 0.85 compared to only 0.67 at the start of the project. In 2006, WFP plans to expand the project from 12 to all 19 districts in the three targeted provinces. The aim is to reach more than 145,000 primary school children each year, including 70,000 girls.

WHAT IS IN A SCHOOL FEEDING SNACK? Vitamin and mineral content per serving Energy:




Fat: Calcium: Iron: Iodine:

6.9g 831mg 18mg 57mcg

Vitamin A:


Thiamin (Vitamin B1):


Riboflavin (Vitamin B2):


Niacin (Vitamin B3):


Vitamin C:



WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005

Achieving the Essential Package School feeding involves far more than food. By working closely with partners WFP aims at achieving the essential package of health, education and hygiene assistance at schools. During 2005 a significant partnership was formulated between WFP, AusAID and UNICEF known as Access to Basic Education in Laos (ABEL). With AusAID funding, UNICEF will complement WFP’s school feeding activities by providing water, sanitation, hygiene education and teacher training in the same target villages. In addition, funding will allow WFP to implement a range of initiatives to improve the quality of the school feeding project. These will include a parent/daughter exchange programme to encourage poorer villagers to send their daughters to school and a cook exchange programme to promote the use of local products such as pumpkin and banana in the preparation of CSB snacks. ABEL will be implemented from 2006 to 2010. During the 2004/05 school year, WFP distributed de-worming tablets donated by the World Health Organization (WHO) to all primary school students and non-enrolled children in the project areas, considerably reducing the prevalence and intensity of soil transmitted worm infections amongst children. From 2006, the Ministry of Health will take over this programme and prioritize WFP school feeding districts as part of the gradual scale up of its five-year, nationwide de-worming campaign.

Sustainability Communities have demonstrated a strong commitment to the school feeding project. Many have built their own schools or

Above: An ethnic Akha girl participates in class. Since the school feeding project began the net enrolment ratio for girls in assisted provinces has increased by 15%.

recruited their own teachers as a means of investing in the education of their youth. School feeding committees have been established at the village, district and provincial level, helping to enhance the capacity of local communities and Government staff in managing the project and increasing the chances of the project’s sustainability. Women make a huge contribution to the project particularly through the voluntary cooking and distribution of food. WFP aims to increase the number of women in decision making positions as the project continues. WFP also organized education indicator training for district and provincial Government staff helping to equip them with the skills necessary to analyse the education situation and achievements in their districts and provinces over time.

• A total of 1,136 metric tonnes of food distributed to 178,544 beneficiaries (this includes primary school children and the families of girls); • Plan of Operations signed with the Ministry of Education as the main implementing partner; • Partnership developed with UNICEF and AusAID for harmonized assistance to primary schools; • Partnership fostered with the World Bank for a baseline survey to assess the nutritional and education impact of the different food interventions; • Education indicator training for 114 Government staff including representatives from the Youth Union and the Lao Women’s Union; • All primary school children in target areas received deworming tablets; and • A contract awarded for the local production of CSB in Bokeo Province helping to provide a steady income to local farmers and a fresh product for children.


Reaching remote schools


haluangly village, perched on a hill in Bountay District, Phongsaly, appears untouched by time. There are no telephones, electricity or satellite dishes; the closest road is two hours away. In this village a 13-yearold girl ponders her future.

not uncommon. “Many parents cannot afford clothes, paper or pens for their children,” he says, “they need the older children to stay at home and look after the younger ones or work with them in the field. It’s the poorest children who are not able to attend school.”

“I am not sure if I will be able to keep studying,” says Seng Nuan sadly as she stands in the doorway of her twoclassroom school with nothing more than a blackboard and a few wooden benches inside. “It depends on whether my parents let me.” Seng Nuan’s parents, like many other families in Chaluangly, struggle to grow enough food to feed their family. “My sister had to leave school in second grade,” explains Seng Nuan. “My parents told her she had to take care of us (Seng Nuan and her two younger sisters) and help them work in the field.” According to the Chaluangly’s village chief this is

Seng Nuan says that the main reason her parents let her stay at school is because of the rice and fish incentives they receive from WFP as compensation for the loss of her labour. “My parents are very happy when they receive the food,” she says, “they don’t tell me to do household chores; they let me do my homework first because they know we have the rice and fish to eat.” The importance of this food to Seng Nuan’s family, and to the other villagers of Chaluangly, is demonstrated by the journey they undertake to collect the food. To reach the distribution point,

located at the closest access road, they must walk for two hours along a slippery mud track and wade through a waist deep river. The return trip is then made with the food on their backs. School has not been an easy journey for Seng Nuan. She started first grade when she was nine, yet it has taken her four years to reach grade three. Her 19-year-old teacher Nawansai explains that it is hard for the village children to progress through school as they don’t speak Lao, the country’s official language. “It is very difficult for the students to pass grades one and two,” she says, “many have trouble learning Lao - they are Akha (an ethnic group) and only know the Akha language.” One method Nawansai uses to help her students with the language is teaching them Lao songs. “My students love to sing,” she says, “it’s their favourite activity.”

WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005



Development Food-for-Work building a sustainable future

In 2005, WFP development food-for-work projects benefited 89,700 people including 43,200 women across six provinces of the Lao PDR. DEFINING FOOD SECURITY . . . At the 1996 World Food Summit it was agreed that food security exists when: “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.�

What is food-for-work? At its core, food-for-work involves poor, rural villages constructing small scale infrastructure, such as access roads, irrigation channels, fishponds and paddy land, in exchange for food. The aim of this initiative is to strengthen the immediate and long-term food security needs of poor communities.

Strengthening livelihoods and household food security In normal circumstances more than one third of the Lao PDR population experiences rice shortages for two to six months each year (CCA, Lao PDR 2005). These shortages are mainly felt by subsistence farmers, who without rice from cultivation must sell their livestock, work outside the village as hired labourers, skip meals, or spend entire days foraging for food in surrounding forests in order to feed the family. The Development food-for-work project strives to improve the food security and the income base of these rural, primarily ethnic minority communities in the areas where they choose to settle.


Above: Terracing, a food-for-work activity, helps replace shifting cultivation by allowing farmers to grow crops on steep slopes. Right: Villagers walk along a 22km food-for-work road in Oudomxay which now links them to markets and health facilities.

As a first step towards assessing the impact of the foodfor-work projects, WFP conducted a baseline study in eleven villages in seven different provinces across the Lao PDR where both Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation and Development food-for-work activities are planned, but have not yet been carried out. This was done in collaboration with NGO and government partners. A follow-up survey is planned after the food-for-work activities have been implemented to assess changes in food security and livelihood patterns, beneficiary perceptions of the projects and the overall project impact.


WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005




International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Community Initiatives Support Project German Agro Action (GAA)


German Technical Cooperation (GTZ) Action Contre La Faim (ACF) Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)


national projects, implemented 171 Development food-for-work projects which assisted 89,700 people in the six provinces of Oudomxay, Luangnamtha, Bokeo, Phongsaly, Khammuane and Luangprabang. Important steps were also taken to initiate WFP assisted foodfor-training projects to help vulnerable groups, particularly women and adolescent girls, gain knowledge and skills essential for development. In 2005, three literacy projects, for which food assistance was provided, were piloted in Oudomxay by the NGO GAA. Further food-for-training schemes will be trialled throughout 2006 including income generation skills and health and nutrition training.

GTZ Vredeseilanden (VECO) NCA


Lao-American Project



Luangprabang Cooperazione e Sviluppo Onlus (CESVI)

The project places an emphasis on households in transition from slash-and-burn cultivation to more sustainable agricultural practices, from opium production to an alternative means of living and those not yet linked with basic rural road networks and markets. It emphasizes a participatory approach so that the communities which work and benefit from the food-for-work schemes have a key role in selecting the types of assets to be created. In 2005, WFP and its nine partners, which included international NGOs, development agencies and

Above: Villagers return home with the rice they have received from WFP in exchange for implementing a food-for-work activity.

2005 DEVELOPMENT FOOD-FOR-WORK HIGHLIGHTS Number of beneficiaries: Total rice distributed:

89,700 2,688 metric tonnes

Roads constructed or improved:


Paddy land expanded and terraces built:


Fishponds created: Orchard and crop plantations*:

159 170ha

Irrigation channels built:


Drinking water supply systems constructed:


Women and adolescent girls that participated in pilot food-for-training projects: NGO partner and government counterparts trained in food-for-work implementation: * Crops include galangal, cotton, cassava, coffee, tea, fruit and eucalyptus trees

136 25


Creating alternative livelihoods


he villagers of Huanamkha in the heart of former opium-growing country in north-eastern Laos have long struggled to feed their families. Many relied on unsustainable slash-and-burn farming on steep mountainsides, and more than one in ten people were addicted to opium. WFP, in partnership with NCA, began providing food-for-work assistance in Huanamkha in 2001, involving residents like Chapheu Ka. Before the project, Chapheu Ka had no paddy fields, empty rice stores up to six months a year and no chance to educate his two children. Chapheu Ka chose to participate in food-for-work to create paddy land to grow rice. He now has 2.5 hectares of paddy fields and his rice shortage has been reduced to two months a year. He

can afford occasional health-care costs and his son and daughter go to school.

the villages to the district centres of Nga and Xay, providing them with access to markets and health services.

Chapheu Ka says he appreciates the assistance WFP provides through food-for-work and hopes next year to join other community members in developing new forms of agriculture to grow crops on the mountainside. The guarantee of food enables Chapeu Ka and others to invest their time in creating new assets, which will provide potential for greater productivity and well-being.

All 22 families in Houaylo village, many of whom do not have enough rice to consume for up to half the year, helped to build a section of the road in exchange for rice. 14-year-old Ga Yeng, (pictured above left) who is in grade three at school, helped her family dig their 25 metre section of road as well as ensuring that workers had enough water to drink.

The ethnic Hmong village of Houaylo is one of six remote villages in Nga district in the northern province of Oudomxay that is participating in the construction of a 22 kilometre WFP/GAA food-for-work road which will link the villages for the first time in their history. The road will also connect

“Everyone in the village wanted to build the road,” explains Ga Yeng, “we used to have to walk for two days to reach the markets (in Nga district centre) to sell our produce. It will now be much faster and easier to carry the vegetables and food I find in the forest to the markets to sell.”


WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005

Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation In 2005 WFP’s Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation assisted 74,744 people including 37,372 women across five provinces and one special zone of the Lao PDR.


n the Lao PDR many villages are still struggling to recover from successive floods and droughts, and other small-scale disasters that stretch their coping abilities. The Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation (PRRO) aims to meet the immediate food needs of villages that have lost their crops to natural disasters as well as meet the longer-term needs of chronically food-insecure villages through implementing foodfor-work activities to create or rehabilitate assets such as paddy land, access roads, bridges and fish ponds. During 2005, WFP in partnership with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MLSW) implemented 92 PRRO foodfor-work schemes assisting 70,576 people suffering from food shortages in drought affected and flood prone areas in the five southern provinces of Champasack, Attapeu, Saravane, Khammuane and Savannakhet. Most of the assisted areas were also contaminated with UXO. In addition WFP continued its drought relief operation distributing 119 metric tonnes of rice to 4,168 beneficiaries in 11 villages of the Saisomboun Special Zone.

As part of its commitment to building government capacity, WFP has enlisted the MLSW as its implementing partner for the PRRO. Government appointed officers are responsible for the daily implementation of food-for-work activities in targeted districts and are supported by WFP field staff in each of the provinces.

Above: A PRRO food-for-work bridge in Champasack Province


74,744,including 4,168 drought relief beneficiaries in the Saisomboun Special Zone

Total food distributed:

1,536 metric tonnes

Roads constructed or improved: Bridges constructed: Paddy land expanded: Fish ponds created:

50km 14 300ha 3

Number of people trained in activity construction and maintenance:


Number of Government staff trained in food-for-work implementation:



UXO, the continued danger


ifty-year-old Chouaheng from Pachoucheun village in the remote eastern district of Ta-oy in Saravane Province, points to a scar just below his ribcage explaining that remnants of metal from the UXO that almost cost him his life are still lodged inside him. “I was digging in my paddy field when my hoe hit something hard. All of a sudden there was an explosion and I was in terrible pain. I thought I had died.” Following the accident, farmers working in nearby fields carried Chouaheng to the village’s traditional healer, who treated him for a month. Although it has been almost 20 years since this accident, Chouaheng has not been able to expand his paddy land until now due to the continued risk of striking UXO. However in 2005 the national UXO mine agency, UXO Lao, cleared some of the land surrounding his village allowing families to expand their paddy fields as part of a PRRO food-for-work scheme. “I am much less

worried about UXO and I have already finished expanding my paddy field,” says Chouaheng proudly, “I will now be able to grow more rice.” Chouaheng’s story is not uncommon in Laos. Extensive UXO contamination has resulted in more than 11,000 casualties since 1975. A 55-year-old man from a small village lying at the foot of jagged, limestone mountains of Bourlapha district, in the southeast province of Khammoune has lost his son, sister and nephew to UXO. “My son was killed eight months ago when he struck a bombie with his spade while he was looking for scrap metal to sell. He was only 18-years-old and left behind his wife and two children,” he recounts. Despite the fatal risks, the search for UXO scrap remains a lucrative source of income for all families in the village. “Of course I still collect it (UXO) ” says the man, “how else will I earn any money to buy food? I have no other choice.”

Garan, a young mother of three, agrees that collecting UXO and UXO scrap from the surrounding forest is the only way she can earn an income. “I am scared when I collect the metal, but I need the money to buy food and clothes for my children. I earn 600 kip (equivalent to 6 US cents) for every kilogram of metal I find.” Recently some hope arrived following the clearance of areas of land in Bourlapha district by UXO Lao. This allowed the village, along with seven neighbouring villages, to build a 5.7km access road as part of a PRRO food-forwork scheme. “I helped to dig the road,” says Garan as she cradles her sleeping three-yearold son in her arms, “it is important to my village as it is now easier to walk to the markets to sell our food or exchange it with other villages. It also means a teacher can come from the district centre to teach our children, and other organizations can reach us.”

WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005




working together for a common cause WFP cannot fight hunger alone. Engaging in effective and genuine partnerships is crucial to the implementation and quality of WFP’s projects. In 2005 WFP took decisive steps to strengthen existing partnerships and develop new ones.

Government of the Lao PDR The Government of the Lao PDR remains WFP’s principal partner, directly implementing both school feeding and Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation activities as well as providing in-kind support such as office and storage facilities. In August 2005, WFP signed a Basic Agreement with the Government which greatly facilitates WFP’s operations and effectiveness. WFP is working closely with the Government towards the Millennium Development Goals and its national development goal of graduating from a least developed country by 2020. In its quest to achieve this goal the Government identified 47 priority districts for poverty alleviation in the 2004 National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy. WFP works in 22 of these districts as well as a further 10 districts identified by the Government as poor. WFP is committed to building the capacity of Government staff and expanding Government ownership of WFP projects. In 2005 WFP organized training for government staff in food-for-work implementation, gender equality, education indicators and vulnerability analysis. WFP is also supporting districts to increase their responsibility and capacity for direct food-for-work implementation. Collaboration with UN agencies In 2005, WFP, as a member of the UN Country Team, was involved in the development of the United Nations Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, 2007-2011 (UNDAF), which aim to provide a coherent assessment and harmonized approach towards achieving development goals in the Lao PDR in close alignment with the Government’s own national development priorities and strategies. WFP also participated in the organization of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of Lao-UN cooperation in October 2005. UNICEF In 2005 an important partnership was formulated between WFP, UNICEF, AusAID and the Ministry of Education, known as Access to Basic Education in Laos (ABEL). With AusAID funding, UNICEF will complement WFP’s school feeding activities in Phongsaly, Oudomxay and Luangnamtha by providing water, sanitation, hygiene education and teacher training in the same target villages. By harmonizing school feeding activities with partners, WFP aims to achieve the essential package of nutrition, health, education and hygiene

assistance at targeted schools. Implementation of ABEL is scheduled to commence in 2006. IFAD In 2005 WFP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) continued joint support to the Oudomxay Provincial Government through the Oudomxay Community Initiatives Support Project, to improve rural development in the poorest and remotest districts in Oudomxay. In 2006, implementation of WFP/IFAD supported food-for-work activities will begin in Attapeu Province under the Rural Livelihoods Improvement Programme.

Collaboration with other partners Swiss Foundation for Mine Action (FSD) and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) Heavy UXO contamination in the Lao PDR poses a serious barrier to the implementation of WFP food-for-work activities. In an effort to overcome this, WFP acted upon its global partnership with FSD to ensure a dedicated clearance of UXO in WFP assisted areas. During 2005, FSD in cooperation with the Lao Government undertook extensive reconnaissance missions to map out UXO affected areas in close collaboration with future food-for-work beneficiaries. As a result, FSD has included food-for-work sites in its annual work plan and has made WFP-assisted areas its priority for clearance. FSD is scheduled to commence UXO clearance in Savannakhet in 2006. Additionally, collaboration with another UXO clearance organization, MAG, has been envisaged for WFP assisted villages in Khammuane Province. World Bank The World Bank and WFP will undertake a joint research study in the new school feeding districts to assess the educational and nutritional impacts that can be attributed to school feeding and the three types of food intervention i.e. mid-morning snacks, take home rations and food supplies for informal boarders. A follow-up study is scheduled to be conducted after two years of food assistance. Other agencies As detailed in the Development food-for-work section on page 15 WFP collaborated with nine partners including six international NGOs during 2005 for the implementation of Development food-for-work schemes. In 2005, new partnerships were formed with Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC) in Xiengkhuang Province and with Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) in Luangnamtha.

WFP in the Lao PDR Annual Report 2005



WFP Laos

working with women WFP’s goal of achieving food security requires women’s participation


lthough women play a central role in achieving food security in the Lao PDR, particularly through the collection of non-timber forest products and preparing daily meals, they are poorly represented in decision-making regarding food security from the village to the national level. In an effort to empower women in decision-making, WFP Laos strives to ensure that women are equally involved in food-forwork and school feeding management committees, that women participate and benefit equally from food-for-work projects and that they have equal access to education and training opportunities.

Promoting equal participation by women and men in food-for-work selection To ensure that food-for-work activities meet the needs of the whole village, committees are established to allow everyone, especially women, to have a voice when selecting the asset to be built. Women’s participation however can be extremely challenging as many ethnic groups do not traditionally involve women in the decision making process or community meetings. As a result many women shy away from public speaking or men dominate meetings. To help overcome this, WFP encourages villages to set up two selection committees, one for men and one for women, to understand the priorities of both. Although men’s priorities still tend to be selected given the traditional

gender roles, having women attend meetings and giving them the choice to identify their priorities is a major first step forward. By listening to women’s priorities WFP is also able to ensure that food-for-work activities are more appropriate to women’s needs. As an example childcare for the children of female workers will now be recognized as a WFP food-for-work task.

Food-for-training, meeting women’s and girls’ needs Food-for-training aims to equip rural women and adolescent girls, who often have never had the opportunity to go to school, with knowledge and skills essential for development. The food assistance provided by WFP allows them to participate in training courses instead of attending to their family’s daily food needs. In 2005, WFP’s partner GAA piloted three food-for-training literacy projects in Oudomxay. In assessments carried out in targeted villages before the start of the project it was found that the functional literacy rate for women aged 14 and over was a staggeringly low five per cent. To help improve literacy rates, women from the targeted villages participated in the pilot courses helping them gain basic reading and writing skills. During 2006 WFP plans to expand the food-for-training to include income generation skills such as the marketing of handicrafts and vegetables and basic health and nutrition training.

WFP LAOS, WORKING WITH WOMEN 2005 HIGHLIGHTS • 25,367 girls received take home rations through the school feeding project, 46% of the total number of primary school students assisted; • 136 women and adolescent girls participated as trainees in pilot food-for-training activities, 100% of total participants; • 40% of leadership positions in food management committees were held by women; and • WFP staff along with 11 representatives from the Government of the Lao PDR, the Lao Women’s Union, NGO partners and other development agencies participated in a WFP Enhanced Commitments to Women (ECW) Workshop. ECWs are now an integral part of WFP’s partnership agreements with the Government and NGOs.


WFP women in the field Below are accounts from two of WFP’s female field staff describing the challenges and joys of their roles. Ms Thatsavanh, (pictured left) Food-for-Work Field Monitor, Oudomxay “I am the first female WFP food-for-work field monitor in Laos. When I started I think some people thought I wouldn’t last. I applied for the position because I wanted new experiences and challenges. In the beginning I was shocked at how poor the villages were, but now I am becoming used to it.

The Lao Women’s Union representing women’s needs WFP draws on the support of the Lao Women’s Union (LWU) in the management of many of its projects to ensure that women’s views are represented at all levels and that women are involved in the implementation of the projects. This is particularly the case in the school feeding project which requires the formal inclusion of a LWU representative on village, district and provincial school feeding committees. Ms Saser from the remote village of Chaluangly in Phongsaly, has been a member of the LWU for 11 years. She has a number of responsibilities in the village including managing the LWU village fund, helping women solve their problems as well as her role on the school feeding committee. “Sometimes I gather all the women in the village together so we can share our ideas on the best way to prepare the CSB snacks,” explains Ms Saser. “The women are happy to be involved in the project. They want the children to go to school so they can learn the Lao language. If they can read and write, their lives will be easier.” Ms Saser is also responsible for developing the cooking rosters. “I make sure that each morning two women from different families prepare the CSB and serve it to the children.” 17-year-old Jutu, who never attended school, is one of the village’s CSB cooks. “I am glad that our cooking helps children, especially girls, go to school. When I first started we only needed 20 bowls for the snacks – now we need more than 50! The children are appreciative when I give them the food. They always say thank you.”

More women in the field In 2005 WFP made an effort to increase the number of women working in the field. This is important to not only ensure gender equality in the workplace, but also to enhance WFP’s ability to communicate effectively with women in remote villages. As an example, some ethnic minority groups do not allow women to talk to male outsiders. The number of female field staff increased from two out of 13 at the end of 2004 to nine out of 27 at the end of 2005.

A big challenge of the job is trying to communicate with women in remote villages as many don’t speak Lao. Often it is the men who speak for them. This is also a cultural thing - in many ethnic groups women are not supposed to speak with strangers. This will take a long, long time to change. It is hard because I want to find out the women’s opinions. I plan to study Khmu (an ethnic language) so I can talk more easily with them. I think working with WFP is the best way I can help poor people. One of the most rewarding parts of the job is seeing villagers’ faces when they receive the food.” Ms Vadsana, School Feeding Programme Assistant, Luangnamtha “I grew up in a poor, remote village in Thakek so it feels right that I am working with WFP. When I was at school we would have been very happy to receive the school feeding snack and now I am helping to give it to children who need it. My favourite part of the job is going to the field. I couldn’t stay in the office for a long time. I see many places and people, and experience different needs and situations. There are similar problems to those that I experienced when I was growing up, but it can still be very hard to see people so hungry and poor. It can be difficult being a young woman working in rural Laos. Many men think that if you’re a young woman you can’t be in a high position. I often wonder ‘how can we make them realize that we are not little girls?’ I think it is more important to make them respect the rules of the school feeding project, even if they may not respect me. There is still a huge difference between men and women in the remote villages. One time I stayed the night at Namlo village in Viengphouka District. I woke up early and saw three women returning from the forest with huge baskets of firewood on their backs. They must have woken up at three or four in the morning to collect it. And I thought to myself, ‘why am I so lucky?’ It is not hard for me to live in Luangnamtha, it is better than my house in Thakek. But I do feel very far away from my mother, brothers and sisters. After a hard day in the field I have no one to go home to, but at least I have a phone.”



Logistics and Distribution reaching our beneficiaries

In 2005 WFP distributed 6,872 metric tonnes of food to 939 villages across 40 districts in 10 provinces and one special zone of the Lao PDR.


FP has the vital role of ensuring that food aid ends up in the hands of beneficiaries all over the Lao PDR. This is a challenging task as not only do many of WFP’s beneficiaries live in remote villages that are hours from roads, Laos also has one of the most highly dispersed populations in Southeast Asia, with 25 people per square kilometre compared to 253 people per square kilometre in Vietnam. To help overcome this logistical challenge, WFP creates distribution points at schools or villages, that beneficiaries in inaccessible villages can reach on foot or by boat to collect their food. In the school feeding project alone there are 184 schools that are not accessible by road or boat. The importance of WFP food to villagers is demonstrated by the staggering journey some undertake to reach distribution points. In Mai District, Phongsaly some villagers walk for 18 hours to reach the closest pick up point.

To help reduce this burden on villagers, WFP continues to establish more and more distribution points every year. As a result Laos has a very large number of WFP distribution points, a grand total of 709.

Transporters WFP contracts private transport companies to deliver its food to poor, vulnerable communities across Laos. While transporters use trucks to deliver food, it can be a long process to get it from the warehouse to the beneficiaries. Many roads

DISTRIBUTION POINTS BY PROJECT Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation:


Development food-for-work:


School feeding:





Reaching villages in the rainy season Food distribution is often greatly hampered during the rainy season, which typically lasts from May to September, when up to half the villages in Laos are inaccessible by road. The director of one of the major transport companies in the Lao PDR says landslides are common during the rainy season. “Sometimes my staff must sleep in their trucks overnight as the rocks and mud block their way. The next day they have to go in search of villagers to help them clear the road.” Crossing rivers, especially with no bridges can also be problematic. “One time when returning from a food distribution in Saisomboun we had to load the WFP car onto our truck so it could cross the river,” recalls the director. “During the rainy season it can end up taking days to travel less than 100 kilometres.” Despite these challenges the transport director believes it is worth it, “we are proud of what we do.”

in Laos, particularly in the remote areas, are not strong or wide enough to hold trucks with loads of more than one metric tonne. As a result, if the transport company is delivering 10 metric tonnes of food, it must break its journey along the way to divide the food into ten smaller trucks so the food makes it to distribution points.

Warehouses In addition to four warehouses in Vientiane, WFP uses warehouses strategically located in the Northern provinces of Oudomxay and Luangnamtha and in the Southern provinces of Khammuane and Champasack. Combined, the eight warehouses can hold more than 4000 metric tonnes of food.

well as a steady income to local farmers. Overall in 2005, 39 per cent of food was procured regionally or locally and 61 per cent was provided in-kind internationally.

PERCENTAGE OF FOOD DISTRIBUTION BY PROJECT Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 22% Development Food-for-Work 39%

In 2005 construction began on a new warehouse in Oudomxay to replace one of the warehouses in Vientiane, helping to ensure the food is closer to WFP beneficiaries in the North.

Local procurement and production Where possible, WFP purchases locally or regionally produced food. For example iodized salt, which is provided to informal boarders through the school feeding project, is purchased from a factory in Boten in Luangnamtha Province, where the iodisation process is supported by UNICEF. In addition, after a competitive bidding process WFP awarded its first contract for the production of micronutrient fortified corn-soya blend to a company based in Bokeo Province in December 2005. Only locally grown corn and soybeans will be used in the blend, resulting in a fresh product for students as

School Feeding 39%



2005 Contribution (US$)


School Feeding

Germany 22%








Finland 7%

Japan 22%




Development Food-for-Work Norway*




Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation Sweden*








* Multilateral Contributions

China 2% Ireland 1%

New Zealand 1%

Norway 14% UN 3% Private 1% Australia 12%

USA 15% Emergency Operation and Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 2000-2005* Sweden 12%

Other 2%**

Japan 25%

UK 3%

*This includes contributions to both the first and second phase of the school feeding project, 10078.0 and 10078.1

Poland 1% Netherlands 8%

Development Food-for-Work 2000-2005* Australia 13%

Germany 14% WFP 9%

Ireland 5%

Finland 0.3% Germany 7%

WFP 6%

USA 12%

Australia 17%

Norway 30%

Luxembourg 1.7%

*This includes contributions to both Emergency Operation 06311.0 and Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 10319.0 ** Other refers to multilateral donors in 2000: Australia, Denmark, Netherlands, Sweden, UK

Japan 34% *This includes contributions to both Development food-for-work project 05874.0 and Development food-for-work project 10306.0





Attapeu •

Saysetha Sanamxay



Bokeo Meung






List of Abbreviations: ABEL:

Access to Basic Education in Laos


Action Contre La Faim


Adventist Development Relief Agency


Australian Aid for International Development


Common Country Assessment


Cooperazione e Sviluppo Onlus Christian Reformed World Relief Committee





Corn-soya blend



Enhanced Commitments to Women (WFP)


Development Food-for-Work


Fondation Suisse de Deminage/Swiss Foundation for Mine Action

Khammuane Ngommalath




German Agro Action/ Deutsche Welthungerhilfe



Gross Domestic Product


German Technical Cooperation


International Fund for Agricultural Development

Xaybouathong Luangnamtha Sing

Lao PDR: Lao People’s Democratic Republic



Lao Women’s Union



Mines Advisory Group



Millennium Development Goals


Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare


Ministry of Education

Luangprabang •

Phonexay Oudomxay Xay


Norwegian Church Aid


National Disaster Management Office



Net Enrolment Ratio



Non-governmental Organization

Houn Beng


National Growth and Poverty Eradication





Strategy (2004)



Saravane Samouay



Savannakhet Atsaphone


Saisomboun Thathom




Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation


School Feeding


United Nations


United Nations Development Assistance Framework


United Nations Children’s Fund


Unexploded ordnance


Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping




World Bank


World Health Organization

Credits All photos: WFP Lao PDR/Tom Greenwood except P.3, P.4, P.19, P25:UNICEF Lao PDR/Jim Holmes. P.9:UNICEF Lao PDR. P20: FSD. P.7 BR, P.15 BL, P.16 R, P.18 R, P.18,BL: WFP. Base maps produced by WFP VAM-Unit Lao PDR 2005 Design: Paul Bloxham/Pankham-Jampa Publishing

The WFP Laos team

WFP Laos Country Office Thatluang Road, Xaysettha District PO Box 3150, Vientiane, Lao PDR Tel: +856 21 415594 Fax: +856 21 413273 Email:

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