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Covid Outbreak Posing Challenge To Poverty Reduction, Hunger

Source: Vientiane Times

The rising number of Covid infections is hindering Laos’ efforts to battle poverty, with the country one of many in the world that are home to nearly 700 million malnourished people.

This was the message delivered by Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Phet Phomphiphak to mark International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on October 17 and National Week for the Eradication of Poverty from October 17-24.

These special occasions aim to raise awareness of the challenges of climate change, diseases around the world, as well as to raise awareness and encourage people in Laos and around the world to be vigilant, prevent potential disasters and work together to address the effects of disasters.

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The government, in cooperation with development partners, is marking these important events as part of global efforts to bring an end to hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

Dr Phet said the world is facing many problems and challenges such as global climate change, more natural disasters, social unrest, wars, and disease. These continue to affect the world’s nearly 700 million malnourished people, and it is estimated that an additional 130 million people worldwide may suffer from food shortages due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

In response to the challenges of reducing the impact of poverty and hunger, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in Laos, is implementing a programme to support a system of agricultural and food transformation towards sustainable and green development.

The programme supports the overall development strategy to 2025 and the vision for 2030 as well as the two national agendas, with a particular focus on the production of nutritious and safe food to adequately meet the needs of the whole population.

Currently, one in three children under five years of age is stunted across Laos due to poverty and undernourishment, according to the FAO.

The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in lockdowns in Vientiane and some provinces, disrupting economic activities, causing rising unemployment, and lowering consumer spending.

The fallout from the pandemic is affecting long-term solutions to poverty in Laos. A swift recovery from the pandemic depends on policies that support businesses and households to adapt to the ‘new normal’, economists say.