UN in Lao PDR Launched the Socio-Economic Response Plan to contribute to the COVID-19 response and recovery
09 October 2020
Vientiane, 29 September 2020 – On Tuesday, the UN in Lao PDR convened an exchange with the Government of Lao PDR and Development Partners, where the UN Country Team presented the UN Lao PDR Socio-Economic Response Plan (SERP) and its offer of support to in the country’s COVID-19 response and way forward.
The scale and uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic is creating profound challenges for countries and people across the world. In Lao PDR, the impact of has so far been largely socio-economic with only 23 cases recorded to date, none of which have been fatal. Nonetheless, as domestic and regional supply chains have collapsed, many have seen their business closed, jobs lost, and income drop.
UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Sara Sekkenes said, “In overcoming the challenges brought by COVID-19 and even more entrenched ones in achieving the SDGs, it will be critical that we work together, pool our resources and place them on priorities that could produce the most catalytic and long-lasting impacts, and to ensure that we reach those furthest behind first.”
To better understand who is worst affected, how they are affected, and what they need to recover, the United Nations in Lao PDR has conducted a series of surveys and rapid assessments of socioeconomic impact of COVID-19 over the past few months.
Building on these findings, the UN Country Team developed a comprehensive SERP, outlining an essential package of support offered by the UN Development System in Lao PDR over the next 18 months to contribute to the nation’s COVID-19 response, recovery and development, and to protect the needs and rights of people living under the duress of the pandemic, with the support of the Government and Development Partners.
The SERP has been developed around four workstreams, with a particular focus on leaving no one behind and protecting the important development gains made in Laos over the past decade. The Plan emphasizes a people-centered approach when looking at the multi-sectorial response, highlighting the importance in targeting those disproportionally affected by the crisis, particularly when accessing education, health, social protection services and ensuring access to food and nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene. It outlines the importance of protecting health and essential health services during the crisis, not losing sight that COVID-19 could still possibly be a significant and high-risk public health emergency in Lao PDR. It also articulates the importance of building a strategic and interconnected economic recovery targeting the advancement of key industries, such as agriculture and tourism, whilst improving the macroeconomic positioning of the country.
Furthermore, the UN Country Team presented the catalogue of initiatives which would operationalize the SERP and drive forward the COVID-19 response and recovery effort. It includes not only responding to urgent humanitarian imperatives like food assistance, but also looks ahead to start building capacity, promoting an agile health preparedness system, tapping emerging opportunities like e-commerce, and empowering young women and adolescent girls.
The workshop was chaired and facilitated by Ms. Sara Sekkenes in collaboration with the UN Country Team. Key stakeholders including Mr. Maythong Thammavongsa, Director General of Department of International Organizations, Ministry of Foreign Affairs; representatives from the Embassies of Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Canada, France, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Turkey, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom as well as from GIZ, JICA, SDC, USAID and other development agencies.
Coordination Officer (Communications and Partnerships Support)