Status of Early Childhood Health and Development in Northern Lao PDR


This report presents baseline data from 7,520 children in 7,355 households, across five provinces, 14 districts and 376 villages in northern Lao PDR and acts as the starting point for evaluating the impact of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) Project, supported by the World Bank.  This project seeks to support the expansion of quality early childhood education services in order to improve the overall development and school readiness of children aged three to five years in disadvantaged communities.

The data provides a comprehensive picture of the current status of children’s health and development of the social, demographic and economic contexts in which children in northern Lao PDR are growing up, and of how all these factors are having an impact on children’s early developmental outcomes.

  • Overall, children in northern Lao PDR are developing poorly, with disparities in child development across different ethnic groups and family backgrounds.
  • Children are not receiving the basic services and nutrition they need for good health, due to limited parental knowledge of what is required for optimal child health, coupled with inadequate coverage of healthcare services. In particular, the level of stunting is of high public health significance, and this is having a substantial negative impact on children’s development and ability to learn.
  • Despite significant improvements in education services, ECE coverage in northern Lao PDR is insufficient. However, where it exists, ECE attendance is associated with better verbal communication skills, approaches to learning, early literacy and numeracy skills, perseverance, knowledge of culture, and social and emotional skills.
  • Finally, children are receiving very low levels of stimulation and support for their development in their home environments, and this is having a significant negative impact on their learning and development. Parent-child interactions are of great importance.

The ECE Project has the potential to support improvements in child health and development in Lao PDR through a range of interventions, namely:

  • Increased coverage and quality of ECE services
  • Community awareness raising on the importance of early childhood development, parenting skills, health and nutrition, hygiene, immunization, and disability awareness
  • Implementation of complementary support services such as disability screening and school meals

A concise summary of the findings is available in 4 snapshots reports.