VIENTIANE, July 13, 2016 — The Ministry of Finance today signed a $30 million agreement with the World Bank aimed at continuing to finance Lao PDR’s Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF). The signing was witnessed by H.E. Mr. Somdy Douangdy, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
The new project represents the third phase of World Bank funding for the Poverty Reduction Fund, which is one of the main programs to address rural poverty in Lao PDR. The new resources will continue to improve the rural poor’s access to basic infrastructure such as rural roads and safe drinking water in Lao PDR, and help improve livelihoods with good nutrition in 150 villages.
“This support is in line with the Lao PDR Government key development objectives as highlighted in the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan which recognized that improving access to basic education infrastructure, safe water and roads is critical to address rural poverty” said H.E. Mme. Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice Minister of Ministry of Finance.
Despite rapid economic growth in the last few decades, poverty remains high in Lao PDR, especially in rural areas and among ethnic groups. Many Lao citizens who escaped poverty in the recent past have fallen back into poverty again. About 19 percent of Lao citizens are undernourished, and 44 percent of children below-five are stunted.
“The Poverty Reduction Fund is a successful program and we are pleased to help fund its expansion,” said Mr. Ulrich Zachau, Country Director of the World Bank for Southeast Asia. “We welcome in particular the focus on improved nutrition, which is so critical to help all Lao children realize their potential and lead good productive lives.”
The new World Bank financing comes from the International Development Association, the World Bank’s fund for the poorest, in response to a request from the Lao PDR Government. It will allow the PRF to scale up some of the results from the earlier phases of the project. In the new phase, the majority of project beneficiaries will be poor ethnic minority groups who live in remote mountainous areas with poor access to infrastructure.
The PRF was established by the Lao PDR Government in 2002.