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Monitoring the Impact of COVID-19 in Lao PDR


Photo: Phoonsab Thevongsa / World Bank

New briefSurvey Round 4  

The COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures have affected livelihoods in the Lao PDR. While efforts to contain the first wave of the pandemic were largely successful, the second wave, which hit Laos in April 2021, saw the number of confirmed cases surge from fewer than 50 cases to over 100,000 cases by December 2021.

The economic impacts have been substantial. On aggregate, the poverty rate (measured as $3.20 a day, 2011 PPP) is expected to increase by 2.5 percentage points in 2021, as compared with a non-COVID-19 scenario. All economic sectors have experienced adverse effects of varying intensity.

The lockdown announced in April 2021 continued to the end of the year, with restrictions being adapted to the changing situation over time. Vientiane Capital entered a full lockdown in September, following a spike in the number of cases, with mobility restrictions and social distancing measures then gradually eased from October.

Declining trading volumes and the absence of international tourism have put thousands of jobs at risk, threatening livelihoods. This negative economic impact has disproportionately affected informal workers, who lack social protection. Rising food prices have exacerbated food insecurity, especially among low-income households Some households have lost their main source of livelihoods while others have seen one of their main coping strategies — remittances from migrant workers — disappear.

To monitor the social and economic impacts of the pandemic, the World Bank is conducting a series of COVID-19 Rapid Monitoring Phone Surveys. The resulting data help provide insights into the effects of the pandemic on household well-being. The first-round survey was conducted from June 20 to July 16, 2020, when Lao PDR had just exited the first nationwide lockdown. The second-round survey was conducted from February 26 to March 24, 2021, one year into the pandemic. A third round followed from April 26 to May 30, 2021 early in the second lockdown, and a fourth survey carried out from October 25 to November 19, 2021, as lockdown measures began to ease.

This webpage provides links to the results of all survey rounds, plus a report on public service delivery and citizen expectations from the government response to COVID-19, drawing mainly on results from the second survey round.

The survey questionnaire is designed to cover important themes such as knowledge of COVID-19 and adoption of preventive behavior, access to food staples, food insecurity, impact of COVID-19 on economic activities and income, coping mechanisms, and access to social assistance. The COVID-19 situation in Laos continues to evolve, with the omicron variant threatening to place further strain on health systems and the economy. The results of further rounds of the survey will be published as they become available.

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2022

Latest Key Results

  • 31% of respondents reported not working in October/November 2021. Informal, low-skilled, and female workers were hit hardest.
  • 35% of pre-COVID household businesses were temporarily or permanently closed in October/November 2021, and 71% experienced declining revenue.
  • 64% of households experienced a decline in total household income relative to pre-pandemic levels — 28% by more than half.
  • Increased food prices and job loss or reduced income are the most common shocks experienced by households during the pandemic.
  • 46% of households report eating less than they did before the pandemic.
  • Vaccine coverage is high and vaccine hesitancy low - only 1.8%.of respondents were hesitant about getting vaccinated. Significant gaps in vaccination rates exist between rural and urban areas and between those with high and low income levels.  
  • While schools in areas with community outbreaks were closed from April to December 2021, only 29% of households with school-aged children had their children engaged in remote learning activities.
  • 64% of respondents were fully satisfied with the government’s response to COVID-19, while 14% of respondents were not satisfied with assistance measures.
  • Around one-fifth of respondents have received unemployment benefits, but 37% of respondents said they were unemployed at some point but did not receive benefits.
  • One third of respondents with taxable income have received individual tax relief.
  • The most widely reported pressing issues were increased prices and the readiness of the health system to handle the pandemic.
  • Utility subsidies and expanded health services were cited as the best ways in which the government could help people cope with COVID-19.

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2022