SUN CSA Laos – Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance Laos – is a network of over 60 organisations in Lao PDR working to support the nutrition efforts of the Government of Lao PDR. SUN CSA is a part of the global SUN Movement.
Scaling Up Nutrition, or SUN, is a global Movement committed to increasing and improving nutrition, with a focus on reducing hunger and under-nutrition in children and other vulnerable groups. SUN is founded on the principle that all people have a right to food and good nutrition. It unites people from governments, civil society, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers in a collective effort to improve nutrition.
Lao PDR joined the SUN movement in 2011, forming the SUN Laos Secretariat led by the National Nutrition Centre in the Ministry of Health. This consolidated the government’s commitment to collaborative action that will accelerate progress in food and nutrition security led by the Ministry of Health.
Currently in Lao PDR there are four SUN Networks established to align efforts that support improving nutrition in the country. These networks include:
- SUN Civil Society Association (SUN CSA) Network;
- SUN Donor Network;
- SUN United Nations Network;
- SUN Business Network;
Nutrition situation in Lao PDR
There are many useful sources of information on nutrition in Lao PDR. This includes on the SUN Laos page. The following is a summary from the ‘Lao Social Indicator Survey II 2017, Survey Findings Report’, produced by the Lao Statistics Bureau in 2018.
- The prevalence of children under 5 years of age with stunted growth (low height for age) has decreased from 44 per cent in LSIS-I, to 35.6 per cent in 2015 (Lao Child Anthropometric Assessment Survey) and to 33 per cent in 2017. Despite this positive downward trend, there remain significant disparities across the 18 provinces. Stunting prevalence is lowest in Vientiane Capital (13.6 per cent) and highest in Phongsaly Province (54 per cent). 8 out of 18 provinces have very high levels of stunting (≥ 40 per cent), compared to 13 provinces in LSIS-I (out of 17 provinces at the time of the survey). Children in rural areas without road, whose mothers have no education and from the poorest quintile are two to three times more likely to suffer from stunting than children in urban settings, with high educated mothers and from the richest quintile.
- Between 2015 (Lao Child Anthropometric Assessment Survey) and 2017 there has been a slight decrease, but not significant, in the prevalence of children under 5 years of age who suffer from wasting or acute malnutrition (low weight for height) from 9.6 per cent to 9.0 per cent. According to the LSIS-II data, 6 out of 18 provinces show an increase in the percentage of children under 5 years of age who suffer from acute malnutrition (low weight for height).
- Early Initiation of Breastfeeding (EIBF) stands at 50.1 per cent while in 2011 (LSIS- I) it was 39 per cent. In terms of exclusive breastfeeding during the first six months, there has been an increase in the percentage over the last five years from 40.1 per cent in 2011 to 44.9 per cent in 2017.
- The percentage of children 6-23 months receiving the minimum meal frequency has increased from 43 per cent in 2011 to 69 per cent in 2017. Whilst this is a good improvement in child feeding practices, less than half of the population of children 6-23months received the minimum diet diversity or the variety of foods required for optimal growth and development.
- Four in ten women in Lao PDR are anaemic. One-third or 33.3 per cent of women have mild anaemia, 6 per cent have moderate anaemia and less than 1 per cent have severe anaemia. Women living in rural areas without roads are more likely to be anaemic than women living in rural areas with roads (42 per cent versus 37 cent). The prevalence of anaemia varies considerably by province; women in Khammuane province are more than 4 times more likely than women in Xayabury province to be anaemic (62 per cent versus 18 per cent). 26 percent of children in Lao PDR have mild anaemia, 18 per cent have moderate anaemia, and <1 per cent have severe anaemia. Children under 5 in Khammuane province are more than two times more likely to be anaemic than children in Huaphanh province (59 per cent versus 24 per cent).
To address these challenges, the National Nutrition Committee is coordinating nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive actions by fostering a convergent response among health, education, agriculture and in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) interventions.