Inauguration of the National Social Protection Strategy 2025 and Launch of a new programme to strengthen social protection in Lao PDR

30 September 2020, Vientiane capital

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare on behalf of the Government of Lao PDR, together with the UN Country Team, inaugurated the National Social Protection Strategy (NSPS) 2025 and a Joint Programme to “Leave No One Behind: Establish the basis for social protection floors in Lao PDR” on 30 September 2020 in Vientiane Capital. The inauguration was attended by the Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Madame Baykham Khattiya; the UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR, Ms. Sara Sekkenes; representatives from the Government, UN agencies, bilateral and multilateral development partners, civil society organizations and NGOs; who reaffirmed their commitment and full support to promoting social protection in Lao PDR.

The Government of Lao PDR issued the Decree on Endorsement and Promulgation of the NSPS, No. 224/PM on 1 April 2020. The NSPS includes a Vision for 2030 that will allow all Lao people to access a basic social protection floor, especially health insurance, social security and social welfare, equitably, effectively and sustainably. The NSPS also defines a goal for 2025, for the improvement and effectiveness of the national social protection system through expansion of coverage and provision of better-quality services to all people. The three main objectives of the NSPS are health insurance, social security and social welfare. Each objective identifies a list of activities to ensure successful implementation.

The joint UN effort supports the Government in delivering social protection to the people of Lao PDR. It will also facilitate the country’s progress towards SDG1 (No Poverty), SDG2 (Zero Hunger), SDG16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions) and SDG17 (Partnerships for the Goals). The UN Joint Programme will help the Government to reach 1,400 children under 12 months old with a new integrated package of welfare services, including a scheme called the “Mother and Early Childhood Grant”, early childhood wellbeing services and support for birth registration. The UN Joint Programme has become even more critical after the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused economic disruptions resulting in unemployment and closure of businesses.

In light of these disruptions, it is crucial to develop a national social protection system, which can help Lao people through cash and in-kind benefits during crises and disasters. Evidence from other countries shows that cash benefits help low- and middle-income households to continue spending money on basic needs, thus alleviating poverty and increasing local economic demand. The UN Joint Programme on “Leaving No One Behind: Establishing the basis for social protection floors in Lao PDR” will be implemented across ministries and organizations until 2021. It receives financial support of US$ 2 million from the Joint SDG Fund and US$ 0.7 million from DFAT Australia and technical support from ILO, UNICEF and UNCDF.

Addressing the event, the Vice Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Madame Baykham Khattiya said: “The joint effort between the Government and UN will contribute significantly to social cash transfer mechanisms in the country and build national capacities to provide support to mothers and their children. Our collaborative work on reforming the public finance management system, through the development of dedicated Charts of Accounts and establishment of an innovative financing mechanism, will greatly help us to advocate for higher and more transparent budget allocations to social protection. We hope that these initiatives will strengthen our social protection system. We also hope that it will help us to implement the social welfare outcome, which is one of three important pillars of the National Social Protection Strategy of Lao PDR”.

“With this intervention, the UN acts as one, through an integrated and systemic approach to support Lao PDR in its efforts to implement the National Social Protection Strategy”, noted the UN Resident Coordinator to Lao PDR, Ms. Sara Sekkenes. “Social protection that is available for all, especially for the most vulnerable groups, is an essential condition for sustainable socio-economic development that leaves no one behind and for further growth of the country’s human assets index, which is one of the criteria for graduation from the Least Developed Country status.”

For achieving the set goals and objectives and the successful implementation of the project’s pillars, the technical and financial support from the UN system, developing partners and other concerned sectors in the country and abroad is vital. This UN Joint Programme will also accelerate progress towards the achievement of the SDGs by 2030.

 

For more information please contact:

Ms. Khemphone Phaokhamkeo, ILO Coordinator (Lao, English)

khemphone@ilo.org, Tel. +856 20 5662 1760

Mr. Matthew Johnson-Idan, Senior Economist, UN Resident Coordinator’s Office (English)

matthew.johnson-idan@un.org, Tel. +856 20 5551 4578

UN entities involved in this initiative
UNCDF
United Nations Capital Development Fund
UNICEF
United Nations Children’s Fund