Vientiane, August 17, 2015 – The Government of Lao PDR and the World Bank today signed agreements for three projects aiming to improve the efficiency and reliability of electricity, to improve women’s and children’s health and nutrition, and to enable the construction of vital infrastructure including schools, health clinics, roads, and drinking water systems for poor communities across Laos.
The three projects are supported by US$ 68 million in new financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), which was approved in Washington DC by the World Bank’s Executive Directors on June 23, 2015.
A US$32.4 million Power Grid Improvement Project, will help Electricité du Laos (EDL) in Xaythany district of Vientiane, to improve the efficiency and reliability of the electricity distribution network. Xaythany district suffered a distribution loss of around 24 percent in 2014 (higher than the national average of 13 percent). Experience gained from improving the electricity network in this district will be used to scale up improvements to other areas in the future.
The Lao PDR Health Governance and Nutrition Development Project, with US$26.4 million in financing supported by the World Bank, aims to improve the health of women and children through support of the Lao Government’s free maternal and child health services. The project will help reduce stunting and wasting by increasing the percentage of infants who are exclusively breastfed. Nutrition is expected to be improved through the development of a national behavior change communications strategy that will target infant and young child feeding practices. Maternal mortality will be addressed in multiple ways, including by making access to family planning available to more women, as well as access to antenatal care visits, and to increase the number of pregnant women who deliver their children with a skilled birth attendant.
A US$11.6 million project, the Poverty Reduction Fund II Project (PRF II), will help to improve access to and utilization of basic infrastructure and services for poor communities across the country, by enabling the construction of schools, health clinics, roads and drinking water systems for poor communities. An additional US$2.4 million is financed by the Government of Australia.
“These three projects will contribute to the continued strengthening of electricity distribution network, health and nutrition, and poverty reduction in Lao PDR, all of which are vital components of the Lao Government’s National Socio-Economic Development Plan” said Her Excellency Madam Thipphakone Chanthavongsa, Vice Minister of Ministry of Finance.
“In the past 15 years, Lao PDR has steadily reduced poverty, to just under a quarter of the overall population in 2013. Lao PDR has also succeeded in bringing electricity to the vast majority of Laos communities,” said Ulrich Zachau, Country Director of the World Bank for Southeast Asia. “At the same time, Lao PDR still faces development challenges, and we are pleased to continue our support for the Government’s program to reduce poverty further.”