April 5, 2013
Lao and overseas officials have vowed to compile a report that reflects the true progress of Laos towards achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The officials made this commitment during a second workshop held yesterday in Vientiane to discuss the draft of the third report on the progress made towards the landmark development goals.
“I wish you well in generating a good report which reflects the reality of our situation, foresees and agrees on the challenges and figures, and how much achievement has been recorded so far,” Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Alounkeo Kittikhoun said in his opening remarks at the meeting.
Mr Alounkeo highlighted Laos’ achievements in striving for MDG No. 1 which concerns poverty reduction. He said the percentage of people living below the national poverty line has dropped from 48 percent in 1990 to 22 percent at present.
But despite this figure having been halved, the problem persists and there is no easy solution, he said. The same is true of malnutrition, which is a big challenge and is not just about health but involves awareness, healthy eating, breastfeeding, education and issues surrounding stunted growth.
He praised the cooperation between the Lao government, UN agencies and development partners who help to find solutions to ensure better coordination on nutrition. At the same time he called on line ministries and UN agencies to agree on figures during the workshop as a basis for continuing the good work towards realising the goals.
Regarding MDG No. 7 which relates to environmental sustainability, Mr Alounkeo said land use management had been effective in certain areas but not in others.
“We should not deny that mistakes have been made and we welcome all the comments of our friends, and on that basis we will always try to improve,” he added.
Mr Alounkeo also referred to Laos’ special goal – MDG No. 9 – the clearance of unexploded ordnance. UXO is a great obstacle to development efforts as all 17 provinces in the country are contaminated with these remnants of war.
UN Resident Coordinator Minh Pham said that, despite the brighter picture, progress had not essentially been made on the situation presented at the Round Table Implementation Meeting last November. However, some detailed and supportive indicators have changed and the availability of new data such as the labour force survey did not reveal differences with ongoing administrative data.
He noted that some of the new data from the survey confirms the continuing progress shown by the administrative data such as in education, while other data also showed that progress was not as much as had been assumed.
“Some data may also show that the disparity between different social economic groups could be greater than we have assumed. I would suggest that we welcome all new data even if these will conflict with previous assumptions,” Mr Pham said.