In the Lao PDR, France and Germany support young girls’ and women’s education and nutrition.


Vientiane: This week, the French and German embassies in the Lao PDR will tour school lunch and nutrition programs supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) in the southern Sekong and Salavanh provinces. Given that women and young girls continue to be disproportionately affected by food insecurity and economic instability, these government-funded programs are crucial in enabling them to access nutrition and education.

The tour highlights the significant investments made in the nation by the governments of France and Germany, as well as their continued collaboration with the WFP and the Government of Lao PDR. In light of the worsening situations surrounding food security, the visit places a special emphasis on women’s empowerment. One in two children under the age of five in Sekong, the province with the greatest percentage of food insecurity ever recorded (36%), suffer from chronic malnutrition, which has a long-term detrimental impact on their physical and cognitive development. An estimated 43% of children under the age of five in Salavanh suffer from chronic malnutrition. The effects of climate change, including as seasonal droughts and floods that harm crops and habitats, are also worst felt in these two provinces of Lao.

France is happy to support the Lao government’s efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, which focuses on achieving food security, improving nutrition, ending hunger, and promoting sustainable agriculture. In 2023, France provided more than €170 million in funding to 139 food assistance projects worldwide. stated Siv-Leng Chhuor, the French ambassador to the Lao PDR.

Following the COVID-19 epidemic and in the midst of the worldwide crises including food, fuel, money, and fertilizer, vulnerable populations in Lao PDR—especially teenage girls and pregnant and breastfeeding women—are now more at risk of malnutrition. As the largest social safety net in the nation, WFP’s school lunch programs have increased enrollment and retention rates in schools while also reducing poverty and malnutrition. These initiatives are also aimed at women and girls in ethnic regions burdened by domestic and agricultural duties and with limited access to nutritious food due to cultural barriers.

The German government is especially concerned in providing young people with access to education and nourishment, particularly in light of the Lao PDR’s current challenging economic circumstances. We therefore back the WFP’s Accelerating School Meals Program in the provinces of Salavanh and Sekong. Annette Knobloch, the German ambassador to the Lao PDR, stated, “We think this school feeding program will not only support local agriculture, access to markets, and healthy nutrition, especially for girls and young women, but also improve educational opportunities.”

“We appreciate the governments of France and Germany’s ongoing support of the school lunch and financial aid programs that promote nutrition and climate resilience. According to Marc-André Prost, WFP Representative and Country Director, “These initiatives are not just about food; they’re about empowering women, employing them as cooks and farmers, and ensuring that they retain their agency and choice.” “They’re also investing in active community engagement, marking a significant step forward in WFP’s mission in the country.”

In order to support nutrition and resilience among the most vulnerable, the French government has committed more than €1 million in 2023 to the Cash Assistance and Resilient Livelihoods for Improved Food Security and Nutrition (CARES) project. The financing, which is divided equally between the provinces of Salavanh and Sekong, provides nearly 4,600 households with monetary help to purchase wholesome food. In addition to grants for gardens to 1,600 households that complete these important training sessions, the project also offers instructional materials on farming and nutrition with the goal of enhancing community resilience to climate change and nutrition. These initiatives, which concentrate on mothers and children under five, especially those in the critical first 1,000 days of life, are essential to enhancing the resilience and food security of communities.

The WFP has received US$ 9.4 million from the German government’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for the School Meals Project (2023–2027), which feeds 20,000 students in 200 schools spread across three provinces in the Southern Lao PDR. Through economic possibilities and sustainable development techniques, this program will not only increase the ability of smallholder farmers to provide schools with a diverse and healthy food supply, but it will also dramatically improve public health and education by empowering women.The greatest humanitarian agency in the world, the United Nations World Food Programme, saves lives in times of need and creates a road to peace, stability, and prosperity for those recovering from natural disasters, armed conflicts, and the effects of climate change through the provision of food aid.