Famine in Laos

Authors: Shuhan Hu and Sereena Singh
World Information Transfer UN interns, fall 2011


  • The Lao People’s Democratic Republic is a poor country, with a per capital GDP ranking at 16 out of 206 according to the World Bank Development Indicators, and 140 out of 176 in the UNDP Human Development Index
  • Poverty in the country dropped from 58% of the population in 1992-93 to 52% in 1997-98. However, the same studies indicate that the distribution of income has become more skewed in this period – poverty is concentrated in the mountainous regions and in the ethnic minority communities, which largely overlap each other.
  • In February 2011, Laotian authorities drove 65 Christian farmers from their villages because they refused to give up their religious faith. Local officials destroyed their crops and have prevented food from reaching the group
  • Every second child under five years of age in rural Laos is chronically malnourished. (WFP)
  • Typhoon Ketsana struck Southern Laos in 2009, causing the most severe floods in the region since 1968. More than 180,000 people were affected by the storm which wiped out more than 28,500 hectares of rice and cash-crops and killed thousands of livestock, and damaged or destroyed houses, schools, roads and bridges. (Kim)
  • Food insecurity issues are increased by low level of agricultural productivity and yield, particularly in upland areas. The situation is further compounded by the inability of farmers to purchase much needed inputs such as seeds and tools due to their lack of economic resources.


  • Bokeo Food Security Project – IFAD (The International Fund for Agricultural Development)
  • The project had seven components, which were to be co-financed by IFAD and GTZ, with the following allocations:

    – irrigation rehabilitation and development (20%); 
    – agriculture-related group promotion (3%);
    – technology development (7%);
    – pilot watershed management (2%);
    – livestock development (7%);
    – basic social services (3%); and
    – institutional support and community development (57%).

  • The Country Programme details WFP’s projects to fight malnutrition in Lao PDR in the years 2012 to 2015. The projects to improve the nutrition and food security of more than 750,000 men, women and children in the country will require US$69 million in funding to be fully implemented. (WFP)
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has asked for US$1,780,000 as part of a $10 million flash appeal launched last week to help victims of Ketsana, which on 29 September damaged an estimated 28,500ha of rice and crop fields. (IRIN)
  • Serge Verniau, the FAO’s representative in Laos, said Ketsana had destroyed the harvest intended to feed families for the next six months, as well as seed stocks for the next cropping season in November, and the harvest from March to April 2011.
  • World Vision’s food security strategy of 2008-2012 will give high priority to addressing malnutrition among children. The strategy will also contribute towards economic strengthening of families and communities through the improvement of access to financial services, markets, information, and technology for the poor. (World Vision)
  • The Government of Lao PDR and World Vision will work together to allow communities and children to participate in the process and thus be empowered to express their needs and circumstances while planning activities. Special attention will be given to the use of sustainable resources and inclusion of the most vulnerable community members including children, women and disabled.
  • Laos-Australia NGO Cooperation Agreements (LANGOCA)
  • LANGOCA is a partnership between AusAID and Australian non-government organisations (NGOs) to better integrate their expertise into Australia’s aid program in Laos. To ensure strategic coherence, program themes build directly on the third key objective of the country strategy, to reduce the vulnerability of the poor through reducing the impact of hazards, disasters and unexploded ordnance.

    USAid Contribution $14 million
    Duration: 2006–2012
    Partners: CARE Australia, Oxfam Australia, Save the Children Australia, World Vision Australia


    “Aid Activities in Laos.” AusAID: The Australian Government’s Overseas Aid Program. 7 June 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. .

    “Fighting Hunger.” World Vision. World Vision. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. .

    “IRIN Global | In Brief: Flood-hit Farmers Face Hunger in Laos | Laos | Aid Policy | Food Security | Natural Disasters.” IRIN • Humanitarian News and Analysis from Africa, Asia and the Middle East

    Updated Daily. IRIN, 26 Oct. 2009. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. .

    Kim, Hyunjung. “Helping the Poorest Get Back on Their Feet.” World Food Programme. WFP, 7 July 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. .

    “LAOS Food Denied to 65 Laotian Farmers to Force Them to Renounce Christianity – Asia News.” Asia News. 25 Feb. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. .

    “Lao PDR.” WFP | United Nations World Food Programme – Fighting Hunger Worldwide. WFP. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. .

    “Lao People’s Democratic Republic: Bokeo Food Security Project.” IFAD. United Nations. Web. 28 Nov. 2011.

    “WFP.” United Nations in the Lao PDR. United Nations, 21 Nov. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. http://www.unlao.org/Blog/category/WFP.aspx (AsiaNews).