VIENTIANE, March 19 (Xinhua) -- The World Bank has agreed to finance three major projects in Laos designed to reduce malnutrition in children, and improve public resource use and service delivery.
The bank's board of executive directors last week approved 72 million U.S. dollars in the form of a concessional loan to finance the projects, local daily Vientiane Times Tuesday quoted a media release from the World Bank Lao PDR Country Office as saying.
Explaining the reasons for the latest funding, World Bank Director for Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia Ellen Goldstein said, "One in every three children in Laos remains chronically malnourished, and maternal and child malnutrition is estimated to cost Laos an estimated 2.4 percent of national income annually. We want to support Laos in developing its precious human capital by tackling malnutrition."
According to the World Bank's media release, households in four northern provinces with high levels of malnutrition will benefit from the 25-million-U.S. dollar Scaling-Up Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene Project.
These regions would also profit from the 27-million-U.S. dollar Reducing Rural Poverty and Malnutrition Project, which supports the government to develop the building blocks of a national social protection system and implement a conditional cash transfer programme for improving nutrition.
The innovative multi-sectoral nutrition convergence approach will come together in Xieng Khuang, Huaphan, Phongsaly and Oudomxay provinces in northern Laos.
In these areas, chronic malnutrition affects over 40 percent of children under five, with long-term adverse impacts on height, brain development and the ability to succeed later in life. These two new projects complement three others supported by the World Bank in health, education and diversified food production.
The 20-million-U.S. dollar Enhancing Public Finance Management through Information and Communication Technology and Skills Project builds on reforms which have been undertaken to put a basic public financial management framework in place.