USAID Announced $5.6 Million to Address the Impacts of COVID-19 on Education and Economic Growth in Laos

VIENTIANE, LAO PDR – Isobel Coleman, Deputy Administrator (DA) for Policy and Programming for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced US $5.6 million in additional assistance to address the impacts of COVID-19 on economic growth and primary education in Lao PDR on May 13, 2022.

DA Coleman highlighted USAID’s support to women-owned Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) with her announcement of an additional $3 million COVID-19 economic recovery grant to the Lao PDR Competitiveness and Trade project. The project is implemented by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the World Bank, with financial support from the World Bank, USAID, Australia and Ireland. The grant will support the Lao PDR’s efforts to improve the business environment and assist Lao businesses to recover from COVID-19.  This investment is expected to foster investment, increase competitiveness of Laos and its MSMEs and ultimately create better paying jobs for the next generation of Laos people.

DA Coleman also announced a new US $2.6 million USAID grant to UNICEF to support early childhood and primary education in Laos.  The grant will also address issues in the education sector posed by COVID-19 in Laos and expand the Government of Laos’ approach in delivering quality learning opportunities for children nationwide, particularly children from ethnic groups, and children with disabilities. The support aligns with USAID’s initiative to help children gain literacy, numeracy, and social-emotional skills that are the foundation to future learning and success; promote and prioritize country-focus and ownership; strengthen systems and develop capacity of local institutions; and promote equity and inclusion.

The United States’ development assistance to Lao PDR spans more than a decade.   In education, USAID has supported Lao PDR in improving reading skills for primary age children with a particular emphasis on non-Lao speaking children and children with disabilities.  In economic growth, USAID is working with Lao PDR and development partners to facilitate trade, improve competitiveness and simplify business regulations.