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The Social and Cultural Affairs Committee of the National Assembly (NA) of Lao PDR and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) will continue working together to improve the lives of people in Lao PDR.

The announcement was made on 8th February at the National Assembly office, during the signing ceremony of a letter of understanding (LoU) between the two organizations under UNFPA's 5th Country Programme in Lao PDR. The agreement aims to strengthen the capacity of the National Assembly for better advocacy, oversight, legislation and representation on population, reproductive health and gender issues.

"The National Assembly has a central role to play in the development of the country. Working together with UNFPA is key to reducing maternal deaths, improving children and women's health and ensuring gender equality especially in education and employment" said Hon. Mr Viset Svengsuksa, Vice Head of the National Assembly Office.

"Ensuring that every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe and every young person's potential is fulfilled is everyone's responsibility and we are very pleased to continue working together with the NA to support these objectives in Lao PDR" Said Dr. Esther Muia, UNFPA Representative.

The LoU includes a detailed work plan with a budget allocation of 150,000 USD for 2013 and 171,100 USD for 2014. It is aligned with the Strategic Plan of the NA and will focus on strengthening capacity of selected parliamentarians and the National Assembly staff for better understanding and awareness of population issues, particularly, in pushing forward the issues related to the achievement of MDG 5 (Improve Maternal Health) as well as the welfare of young people. It will also support the National Assembly in exercising and enhancing its oversight, advocacy and representative function including fact-finding missions, meeting and listening to the people through outreach missions, and taking up reproductive health, population and gender issues for further discussion at National Assembly Sessions.

The cooperation is also expected to strengthen the National Assembly in its legislative function with the focus on the preparation for the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) in 2014. AIPA will provide another platform in discussing a roadmap for the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) beyond 2014 and the Laos' preparation for the ASEAN community in 2015.

In its 4th Country Programme, UNFPA provided support to strengthen capacity of the National Assembly through the UN Joint Programme SELNA - Support to an Efficient Lao National Assembly, which aimed to strengthen the capacities of the National Assembly and its staff as well as build the capacities of the NA Members to exercise the oversight function and to influence policy making in order to enable the National Assembly to fully contribute to a truly participatory and representative democracy. The SELNA joint programme was carried out in 2008 and ended in 2012.

For further information please contact:
Mr. Diego De La Rosa. Advocacy and Communications Officer, United Nations Population Fund - UNFPA. 
Tel: (+856 21) 315547. Mobile: (+856) 020 7791053, E-mail :