Laos: An Overview
In Laos, malnutrition is a major issue for both animals and people, with stunting due to malnutrition affecting 33% of children under 5 years of age (UNICEF, 2020). VWB/VSF works in Laos with two local partners, both of which focus on nutrition, empowering women, food security, and disease management.
Work in Laos is conducted through our partnership with CARE Laos and their Women’s Income and Nutrition Groups (WINGs). WINGs support ethnic women living in remote areas in improving their knowledge of nutrition, with the goal of increasing their income and health.
WINGs provides access to funds, resources and training to community members. For example, through a focus on ‘cash crops,’ there have been improvements in income generation in both Sekong and Phongsaly provinces. In Sekong, increased income generation has been linked to coffee production, which VWB/VSF supported through long-term volunteers.
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Why We Are Here
One of our primary goals is to tackle gender inequality by enabling women and girls to access opportunities and resources, particularly for rural and marginalized women. Illiteracy, poor reproductive and basic health, food insecurity and economic disenfranchisement rank high among development priorities for ethnic minority women in Laos.
In addition, the natural resource-based economic growth derived from mining, logging, hydropower, and industrial crop plantations has put new pressures on the environmental assets in Laos. A lack of environmental hygiene, the use of contaminated water (with animal feces), poor sanitation, unsafe water storage practices and incorrect hygiene practices represent a serious risk to animal, human and environmental health.
Current Project in Laos: VETS
Under VETS, our local partners will engage more women in crop and livestock production and marketing activities that will help them acquire the necessary skills to bring in additional income and meet their nutritional needs. Our partner organizations will help women gain the skills and knowledge needed to become more engaged within their communities and have a stronger voice and role in decision-making.
Another key activity of the VETS project in Laos will focus on Reproductive Maternal Newborn and Child health as well as training Community Animal Health Workers to help address nutritional and livestock production barriers.
The project will also focus on project the promotion of improved coffee wastewater and animal waste management practices, animal fodder cultivation and improved livestock production to support food security and agriculture income generation activities as alternatives to the collection of non-timber forest products.
VETS Partners in Laos
CARE Laos focuses on improving livelihoods in remote rural areas, preventing the spread of emerging infectious diseases, and supporting vulnerable women.
Aside from WINGS (Women’s Income and Nutrition Groups), CARE Laos also works with Village Savings & Loans Associations. VSLAs are built entirely on women members' savings and interest from loans and provide an affordable and secure way to manage finances.
Health Poverty Action (HPA)
HPA Laos works with marginalized groups in rural areas to improve the standard of living and access to health facilities.
Their work focuses on nutrition (with a special focus on child malnutrition), water sanitation, disease control, malaria reduction, and increasing community nutrition knowledge and food security planning.