VIENTIANE, April 1, 2019 – The World Bank Vice President for East Asia and Pacific, Victoria Kwakwa, concluded an official four-day visit to Lao PDR on Saturday. During her visit from March 27 to 30, she highlighted the development progress made by Lao PDR in the past decade and emphasized the importance of supporting a more inclusive and sustainable pattern of economic growth in the future.
During her visit, she met Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance Mr. Somdy Douangdy, Minister of Planning and Investment, Mr. Souphanh Keomixay, and Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mr. Sommad Pholsena. Ms. Kwakwa and the authorities discussed the close partnership between Lao PDR and the World Bank Group, and focused on key areas of cooperation, including childhood stunting and nutrition, dam safety, the business environment, public financial management, and green growth.
“Lao PDR has grown rapidly and made impressive development progress over the past decade,” said Ms. Kwakwa. “To make its development more inclusive and sustainable, it will be crucial for Lao PDR to build its human capital, pursue a greener growth path, and open up space for more private sector participation. Investments in human capital will raise the productivity of Lao citizens and help them capitalize more fully on economic opportunities. The green growth vision already laid out by the government will be key to ensure economic growth is more broad-based and does not come at the expense of Lao PDR’s natural resources. Strengthening the role of the private sector will equally be important for raising productivity and creating more jobs for Lao citizens. We are pleased to already be working with Lao PDR on these important agendas and stand ready to continue our strong partnership in the future.”
While in Vientiane, Ms. Kwakwa also met with bilateral and multilateral development partners and representatives of the private sector to discuss areas where all stakeholders may be able to increase collaboration for inclusive growth in Lao PDR. Some of the key themes covered included disaster resilience and response, green growth, connectivity, and doing business.
As part of her program, Ms. Kwakwa visited La District in Oudomxay Province, one of the four provinces implementing a multi-sector convergence approach for reducing malnutrition. In Oudomxay, stunting affects over 42 percent of children under five, with long-term adverse impacts. As part of the convergence approach, interventions in social protection, water, sanitation and hygiene, health, education, and diversified food production will target the same households over the next ten years to address the many underlying factors that contribute to stunting. Ms. Kwakwa had the opportunity to hear from district authorities about how this program will be rolled out and visit a local community to see a demonstration of some of the interventions and interact with beneficiaries of the program.
While in Oudomxay, Ms. Kwakwa also visited sites of some of the World Bank’s infrastructure projects, including the Roads Sector 2 Project and the Lao PDR Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Management Project. Both projects seek to reduce the vulnerability of communities to climate change, through the design of climate-resilient infrastructure and better preparedness to withstand and respond to natural disasters.