The Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) is the largest multi-sector community-driven development project in the country. Through three phases of IDA financing, US$123.5 million has been provided. PRF has improved access to basic services for 1.2 million rural people through more than 5,000 community infrastructure projects in 2,841 villages in the poorest 55 districts of the country. In target villages, access to protected water increased by nearly 60 percent, and travel time to the nearest village was reduced on average by 114 minutes in the dry season and about 70 minutes in the wet season. The third phase of the project continues to improve access to vital infrastructure including schools, health clinics, roads and drinking water systems in about 250 poor village clusters in 10 provinces. Additional Financing for PRF III became effective in February 2020. PRF III will continue to improve access to community-prioritized basic services while the additional financing will increase support for the production and consumption of nutritious foods as a part of the Bank’s nutrition convergence approach in four northern provinces where the incidence of child stunting is high.
The Health Governance and Nutrition Development Project, which started in October 2015, aims to improve the coverage of reproductive health, maternal health, child health and nutrition services for women and children in Lao PDR. Over five years, the project has benefited approximately one million women and children across 14 provinces. The project uses an innovative approach of linking disbursement of funds to improved performance in the delivery of basic health services. In addition, through a social and behavior change communication program for caregivers, children in high priority nutrition districts will benefit from improved counselling, changed behaviors and practices, and follow-up on their growth. The project further includes support for strengthening information systems and technical assistance in improving the performance of health financing and health protection programs, with a view to progress toward Universal Health Coverage in Lao PDR. It received additional financing in 2017, designed to scale up current efforts.
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) Project, approved in April 2014, aims to increase the coverage and improve the quality of early childhood education services for 3- to 5-year old children in eleven provinces. The project supports construction grants for pre-primary classrooms using community-based contracting and establishment of Community Child Development Groups for 3- and 4-year olds. Midway results from the project show significant improvement in students enrollment, learning environment and outcomes in both literacy and numeracy, and a reduction in stunting. The Global Partnership for Education II project, approved in April 2015, focuses on strengthening school-based management and implementing a new reading pedagogy approach aimed at improving early literacy by targeting children in pre-primary classes. The project covers 88 target districts.
The SME Access to Finance (SME A2F) Project, approved in June 2014, provides long-term funding for banks to support long-term credit to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Beneficiaries include privately-owned and registered SMEs borrowing from commercial banks to expand their business activities, carry out new investments, or enhance their productivity; commercial banks providing long-term credit to SMEs; and the Department of Small and Medium Enterprise Promotion. Out of total approved sub-loans, 53% were for the trade sector, 33% for the service sector, 8% for industry, 3% for agriculture and 3% for handicrafts. The ratio of female beneficiaries is 59%.
The Competitiveness and Trade Project, approved in 2018, has supported the government’s efforts to simplify business regulations, facilitate trade, and improve competitiveness. New and existing Lao firms have benefited from lower costs of doing business, easier procedures, and access to funding for business improvements. These reforms have also benefited the public as they can generate new formal employment opportunities, and lead to more competition, lower prices, and increased choice in goods. The project has ensured these reforms particularly benefit Small and Medium Enterprises and women-led enterprises. Reforms have included streamlining operating licenses, and making it easier to register a business, aiming to reduce by half the number of days to start a business and to prepare documentation for import and export. Firm competitiveness will be supported through the Business Assistance Facility, which helps individual private enterprises to access business development services, aiming to improve company management and innovation.
The Scaling-Up Participatory Sustainable Forest Management project supports government efforts to build a solid foundation for sustainable forest management in Lao PDR. The project has supported over 1000 forest villages with livelihoods development support, developed management plans for over 2.2 million hectares of production forest, and helped develop significant new policies to protect and sustainably use forest resources. Complementing this effort, the Second Lao Environment and Social project is helping to strengthen environmental protection capacity, improve management of protected areas, strengthen enforcement of wildlife laws, and reinforce environmental assessments.
The Lao Road Sector Project 2 , with parallel financing from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF), the European Investment Bank and the European Union, is now building on these achievements, and aims to improve climate resilience and strengthen maintenance systems to improve the reliability of road connectivity for 2.2 million people living in urban and rural areas.
Last Updated: Apr 18, 2020