The United States and the Lao PDR are working to reduce child stunting through USAID Nurture, a $3.7 million United States Government development project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. On February 03, the Lao government signed a memorandum of understanding with Save the Children, the prime implementing partner for the program. Through this program Save the Children will work in partnership with Lao officials and communities to improve household nutrition, water, sanitation, and hygiene practices in six districts across Savannakhet and Khammouan Provinces.
“The United States is committed to working in close collaboration with the government and people of the Lao PDR to improve maternal and child nutrition,” said U.S. Ambassador to the Lao PDR Rena Bitter. “We consider this an investment in the future of the people of Laos and we are proud to be part of that.”
Although significant advancements have been made to reduce malnutrition in recent years, children in Laos remain undernourished with national prevalence of stunting at 36 percent, underweight at 26 percent, and wasting at nearly 10 percent. The USAID Nurture program seeks to educate mothers about benefits of exclusive breastfeeding and other appropriate infant and young child feeding practices.
The program will also increase access to and use of improved sanitation. Linking the health sector and communities helps villages assess, analyze, and address their own needs to improve sanitation and hygiene. Health professionals, community volunteers, and peer groups will offer support by going door-to-door and helping mothers and children during the first 1,000 days — from pregnancy to when the child is two years old. The program, which works with the private sector to supply products, such as latrines and soap, aims to assist 250,000 people.