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Laos, UN celebrate World Food Day, poverty eradication efforts

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and UN agencies in Laos on Wednesday kicked off events to mark World Food Day and International Day and National Week for the Eradication of Poverty at Lao-ITECC.
The government, in cooperation with development partners, is marking the two important days as part of global efforts to bring an end to hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture by 2030.

The event aims to ensure the fulfilment of commitments with regard to the Sustainable Development Goals and the Eradication of Poverty.
Speaking on the occasion, Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to Laos, Mr Nasar Hayat, said this year’s two interlinked themes for the important world days called for action across sectors to make healthy and sustainable diets affordable and accessible to all.
“In recent decades, we have witnessed dramatic changes to diet and eating patterns as a result of globalisation, urbanisation and income growth,” he said.
Unfortunately, a combination of unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles have sent obesity rates soaring, not only in developed countries but also in low-income countries where hunger and obesity now often coexist.
Worldwide, over 670 million adults and 120 million girls and boys between five and 19 years of age are obese, and over 40 million children under the age of five are overweight.
Obesity and other forms of malnutrition affect nearly one in three people globally, and it is estimated that by 2025 half of the world’s population will be affected.
Mr Hayat explained that according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2019 report, Laos had a 16.5 percent prevalence of undernourishment which is calculated as the share of the population whose habitual food consumption is below the dietary energy levels that are required to maintain a normal active and healthy life.
This rate is almost twice as high in Laos compared to the regional average of South East Asia, which stands at 9.4 percent.
Currently, one in three children under five years of age is stunted across Laos due to poverty and undernourishment.
Mr Hayat addressed these multi-layered challenges facing Laos, noting that UN agencies have a unique role to play in efforts to ensure that food and nutrition security, sustainable agriculture, poverty alleviation and rural development are increasingly recognised as significant parts of the solution to the global zero-hunger challenge under Agenda 2030.
Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr Lien Thikeo said that some countries, including Laos, had recorded early achievements on the path to fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals. However, they were also facing severe impacts from natural disasters which hindered progress in the eradication of poverty and zero hunger by 2030.
Dr Lien said the occasion was not only significant in raising awareness about climate change and understanding future challenges but also mobilising a partnership between Laos and international partners to monitor and prevent the potentially harmful impacts of natural disasters.

By Ounkham Pimmata
(Latest Update October 17, 2019)

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