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Vientiane Capital, 13 December 2019- Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) convened the annual meeting to review the progresses made in implementing the current joint country programme in Lao PDR, and set the priorities to address remaining challenges in line with the latest commitments made at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25 and the 8th National Social and Economic Development Plan (NSEDP).

Dr Kikeo Chanthabuly, Vice-minister of MPI, and Mariam Khan, UNFPA Representative in Lao PDR chaired the meeting jointly. Implementing partners and relevant national counterparts attended the meeting, including Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and Sports, Lao Statistics Bureau, Lao Women Union, Lao Youth Union and Lao Tropical and Public Health Institute attended the meeting.

The meeting was held soon after the national commitments pledged by the Lao government to accelerate the unfinished businesses on the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25. Dr. Kikeo Chanthabuly, Vice-minister of MPI, emphasized that the national commitments will be guiding the joint efforts to focus on the wellbeing of Lao people. He stressed that the priorities of the UNFPA-Lao programme have been consistent with the key areas identified in the 8th NESDP, and the achievements and lessons learnt from the joint programme will feed into the planning for the 9th NESDP.

At the recently concluded Nairobi Summit, Lao government has committed to using population data and projections in the 9th National Socio-economic development plan; by 2030, end maternal mortality, end unmet need for family planning, including among adolescent girls and end gender-based violence and harmful practices such as early marriage; ensure youth receive age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education through school curriculums nationwide; finalize and implement policies and Gender equality Law; increase investments for adolescents, especially young women through the “Noi framework” and “Noi ecosystem”.

Line ministries and counterparts shared the key achievements made this year, as well as the challenges, remain. Working closely together, the UNFPA-Lao country programme has made breakthroughs on both policy and programme fronts, including the expansion of the national family planning programme with increased financial resources from the government in addition to UNFPA’s support, revision of national reproductive and maternal health strategy, the integration of comprehensive sexuality education in secondary and vocational training education systems. The National Population and Development Policy (2019 – 2030) and the National Adolescents and Youth Policy have entered the stage of final review.

Mariam Khan, UNFPA Representative to Lao PDR expressed sincere appreciation to MPI and other counterparts for the trusted long-term partnership and continued support to advance the ICPD mandate in Lao PDR. “In the year of double celebrations of UNFPA50 and ICPD25, the enhanced efforts to accelerate the unfinished business of ICPD in Laos have brought remarkable results in partnership building and resource mobilization,” said Mariam Khan. She stressed that the national commitments have laid a clear road map to ensure the advancement of rights and choices for all in Lao DPR, especially adolescent girls, young people and women.

In the year of 2019, UNFPA has expanded partnerships with five new partners, including media and private sector, with half a million US Dollars additional resources raised. The diversified partnerships, with the Sinouk Coffee, Banque Franco Lao Ltd (BFL), China Radio International Lao Branch (CRI Lao), Korean International Cooperation Agency (KOICA), and Good Neighbours, have enabled UNFPA and partners to engage young people more effectively, to extend the reach to the most vulnerable groups, and to be stronger in advocacy in line with the 2030 Noi Framework.

At the meeting, the Mid-term Review findings were shared and discussed. In line with the recommendations, UNFPA and the counterparts will work together to ensure results-based programme delivery and accountability. As a tool to enhance results-based programme management and delivery, the UNFPA Programme Implementation Manual was distributed to all implementation partners. Stronger capacity-building support, effective monitoring and evaluation, better coordination mechanism between central and local level will be strengthened.

The line ministries and counterparts reached the consensus on the priority areas for next year. The 2030 Noi Framework will continue to build platforms for collaborative efforts to advocate for greater investments on adolescent girls. Gender equality will be mainstreamed to tackle root causes for gender-based violence, early marriage, and unwanted pregnancy. UNFPA and partners will continue to engage young people to take actions on sexual reproductive health, gender, climate change and other broad development issues.