Country Nutrition Situation

While the proportion of people who are hungry in Lao PDR has reduced, and stunting rates among children under 5 declined significantly from 2012 to 2019, the triple burden of malnutrition remains a major challenge in Lao PDR. One third of children under 5 are stunted – a very high proportion compared with the World Health Organization (WHO) benchmark. The prevalence of wasting in children under 5 increased from 6 percent in 2012 to 9 percent in 2018. Concurrently, anemia affects 44 percent of children under 5 and almost 40 percent of women and girls of reproductive age (15–49 years), making it a severe public health problem. Changing food environments have led to an increase in overweight and obesity, with 15.7 percent of children and adolescents age 5–19 classified as overweight. Health and nutrition indicators also vary considerably across the 49 ethnic groups and tend to be worse for non-Lao-Thai groups, who are twice as likely to live in poverty according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic and the current global economic and food crisis will further worsen the country‘s nutrition and food security status, having serious implications for children and for human capital development.


Souphalack Inphonephong

SBN Lao PDR Coordinator

Governance structure

The SBN in Lao PDR is led by the National Nutrition Committee Secretariat, and supported by WFP and the European Union (EU), in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),  and Save the Children.

What is SBN doing in SBN Lao PDR

SBN Lao PDR’s strategy aligns with the government’s National Nutrition Policy to 2025, and is based upon four key priorities identified through intensive research and analysis of the private sector landscape.

Establish the Lao PDR SUN Business Network and raise its community profile
Promote improved nutrition and health initiatives in the workplace (Workforce Nutrition Programme)
Support the development and availability of nutritious foods and fortified products
Increase nutrition awareness, demand and nutrition policy perception

In alignment with these focal areas, the network’s primary activities are:

  1. A workforce nutrition programme targeting the country’s garment and food factories
  2. Provide support to the Government of Lao PDR to develop a national roadmap, which includes a technical guideline for rice fortification.
  3. Develop a rice fortification initiative, including:
  4. Encourage the government to establish a food fortification Technical Working Group (TWG), comprised of seven ministries, one institute and the National Assembly, which was endorsed by the Ministry of Health.
  5. Completed a Fortified Food Logo competition, the winning entry of which was then submitted to related ministries and department for endorsement and approval.
  6. Competed a first draft of the technical guideline for rice fortification in English and Lao, which will soon be reviewed by rice experts for further development.
  7. Engage the Vientiane Capital Rice Mill Association to participate in this programme for voluntary pilot project.
  8. Provide a platform at the national level to engage the role of the private sector in improved nutrition, food security and the country’s food supply chain through a number of networking events.
Click HERE to see some of the work we are doing, especially with our Workforce Nutrition Programme.