New UN plan to lift Laos out of poverty

    Pha That Luang in Vientiane, Laos. Lao and U.N. officials signed a new development action framework July 4 in Vientiane. Photo by: Samnang Danou / CC BY

    Lao and U.N. officials have signed a cooperation framework aimed at lifting the Southeast Asian nation above its current status as one of the least developed countries in the world within eight years.

    The new development action framework sets 10 outcomes to be achieved by 2015, and corresponding indicators that partner agencies can work and be measured on.

    These outcomes fall in six priority areas: governance, inclusive and equitable growth, human development, natural resource management, unexploded ordnance, and gender, according to a U.N. statement.

    It’s a more comprehensive plan than its 2007-11 predecessor, which outlined just three broad themes: sustainable development to enhance livelihoods, increased and more equitable access to social services, and capacity building for human rights. That plan estimated the overall budget for implementation at $219 million.

    The new framework puts a greater emphasis on partnerships, listing the envisioned role for a variety of aid agencies for every outcome. It also breaks down costs more specifically.

    A U.N. development action framework is a strategic planning document and supporting results framework, signed by both the member-state government and U.N. country team. Work on the new plan for Laos began in early 2010. While the action plan was signed in Vientiane July 4, resident coordinator office head Maya Lindberg Brink clarified in an email to Devex that the framework is still undergoing a few revisions.

    The plan aligns with the country’s national socio-economic development plan and focuses on achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Laos has experienced notable economic growth and poverty reduction in the past two decades, but income inequality has been exacerbated, especially in rural areas. The country is off track to meet the MDGs for poverty reduction and maternal health by 2015.

    In a May 2012 report, Paul Balogun found that while U.N. development action frameworks helped align development goals with national priorities, they did not sharpen the focus on results. Often, monitoring and evaluation components were not implemented as laid out in planning documents.

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    About the author

    • Jennifer Brookland

      Jennifer Brookland is a former Devex global development reporter based in Washington, D.C. She has worked as a humanitarian reporter for the United Nations and as an investigative journalist for News21. Jennifer holds a bachelor's in foreign service from Georgetown University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University and in international law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School. She also served for four years as an Air Force officer.