Lao PDR Narrative by huangyuarong

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									Introductory letter
Introduction
Dear Mr. Secretary General,

On behalf of the United Nations County Team in Lao PDR, I am pleased to submit the RCs Annual Report letter on the key highlights of our
collaboration in 2009.While the country enjoyed steady economic growth and poverty reduction, the effects of the global financial and
economic crisis have not completely ceded. Also the situation was further aggravated by the repeating natural disaster of the Typhoon Ketsana.
This natural disaster occurred just as the country was recovering from the 2008 Mekong River flood. Furthermore, there is rise in inequality and
regional disparities, with income inequality rising by 3 percent in the last five years, threatening the Millennium Development Goal achievement
by 2015 and aspiration to exiting Least Developed Country status by 2020. Despite these challenges, the UN continued to actively support the
Round Table process, for the development of five-year National Socio Economic Development Plans (NSEDP). Given that Lao UNCT is a UNDAF
roll-out country in 2010, we anticipate further alignment between the UN and the Government in the national planning process.


Major Development / Political Events

•POLICY - In 2009 the Government approved the Decree on Associations, which would allow local not-for-profit associations to register and
operate as independent entities for the first time and provide a guideline for officials as they consider applications for the establishment of
associations in the Lao PDR. This Decree on Associations in 2009, which will allow civil society associations to register for the first time, will have
an influence on the enjoyment of this important right.

While there is no Paris Principles-based body dedicated to the overall promotion and protection of human rights per se in Lao PDR, the
Government has established human rights coordinating mechanisms and bodies tasked with reporting and promoting core human rights treaties
that Lao PDR is a party to. Also, there is support for the Government to develop a decree on national non-governmental organisations in 2010.
Moreover, with the ratification in October 2009 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the UN Convention against
Corruption (UNCAC), and the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD), Lao PDR became a state party to 6 of the 9
international human rights instruments providing protection for all human rights in the civil, cultural, economic, political, governance and social
spheres. These recent ratifications will further strengthen the platform for implementation of the provisions in these treaties.

•Hmong – In mid December, following the very successful SEA Games held in Vientiane, the Governments of Thailand and Laos (military) took
the decision to deport over 4,000 Hmongs based in Thailand. Upon personal background checkup by the government officials, the returnees
have either returned to their hometown or settled in a new development provided by the Government. According to various sources, most of
the returnees are being treated well by the Lao Government. Nonetheless the status of 158 Nong Khai UNCHR-recognized refugees, or “People
of Concern”, remains uncertain and a major issue. So far, access to them has been very limited and US delegates have been exceptionally
granted access to the returnees, including one of the group leaders of 158 refugees, Blia Shoua along with others, have been claiming their wish
to stay in Laos. As for the UN in Lao, we have maintained close contact with various partners, including the Government so that timely support
can be provided including humanitarian assistance if requested. The UN will continue to work in a collaborative manner and help facilitate
transparent processes in the best interests of the Government and people of Lao PDR within the context of the international standards adopted
by Laos.


Summary on Progress in UN Reform
• Supporting aid effectiveness– throughout the years the Round Table process supported by the UN has been functioning as the primary
platform for dialogue between the Government and the Lao PDR and its Development Partners on key development issues. In 2009, Lao PDR
received US $560 million in aid, which speaks to the importance and significance of the Round Table process in ensuring sound aid effectiveness.
At the 2009 RTiM, five key issues were raised as strategic focus for further development dialogue: climate change; private sector development;
natural resources management; governance and coordination, and the Government’s key strategic national plan of 7th National Socio-Economic
Development Plan (NSEDP). In fact this RTIM has led to an agreement for the first time that the next NSEDP will be formulated through a
consultative process involving the development partners. This is a significant step forward in furthering partnership and consensus between the
Government and development partners. The UN as the co-chair of such a process speaks to the weight of the role it will continue to play in the
overall development framework for the country.

Furthermore, the UN has continued to provide strong support to the Vientiane Declaration Task force led by the National Government on the
revision of the Vientiane Declaration Country Action Plan (VDCAP), the new commitments made in Accra (2008). The Actions are being
rationalized and further prioritized to reflect the local context and needs in ensuring its strategic focus. Also, through the annual review process,
which is heavily supported by the UN via the Round Table Process, the level of mutual accountability principle within the Vientiane Declaration
Country Action Plan is being enhanced.

• Support to MDG achievement – The UN continued to provide strong technical assistance for building the national capacity to achieve the
MDGs, supporting further localization of the MDGs relevant to the national context and priorities. In this context, the UN has also supported
upstream policy dialogue by convening Government and development partners. To this end, UN provided lead support to the Government in
drafting the second MDG Progress Report. Also, the UN has supported task forces in determining total public expenditures (costing) required to
fund social sector activities to achieve the MDGs on time.

• Inter-Agency commitment to coordination - The role and function of the RCO have changed over the last years. While they were originally
started to support the Resident Coordinators, over time they have taken a role across UN agencies ensuring communication and information
flow, supporting interagency task forces, organizing events and consultations, preparing reports, creating media outreach, etc. With the new
UNDAF being rolled out soon, the annual national consultations, stakeholder meetings, M&E, partnership strategy, etc, the challenges of the UN
RCO will only grow, requiring an expansion in staff and a predictable budget. Nevertheless, there has been an increasing acknowledgement on
the importance of central coordination office supporting the Resident Coordinator.

• Cooperation with humanitarian actors - In September, devastating storms and floods caused by Typhoon Ketsana hit the southern Lao
provinces Savannaket, Attapeu, Saravan, Champasak and Sekong. The UN immediately responded, supporting the Government relief effort for
people and communities. In response to immediate, medium and long-term humanitarian needs, the Government and the UN launched a Flash
Appeal to the international community for US$10 million, later revised upwards to around US$11 million based on the findings of a joint
assessment. According to the assessment, an estimated 180,700 people, 23 percent of the area’s population, were 7 affected, with 9,600
households displaced. Education was disrupted; UXO were displaced; and health risks increased from damaged or contaminated water supplies
and disrupted access to health services. IASC partners, coordinated by the UN, have engaged in activities at provincial and district levels to
respond to people’s immediate, medium and long-term requirements. With the Lao PDR rated as one of 12 countries in the world likely to face
the highest risk of floods in the near future, the UN is continuing a close dialogue with the Government on the nature and scope of partnerships
among the Government, INGOs and the UN, in order to best support the country during times of emergency.



Summary on Progress Towards UNDAF Outcomes
• Highlights on progress towards UNDAF outcomes -- In 2009, approximately expenditure on programmes contributing to the UNDAF was tallied
at $16 million (US). Of the 3 UNDAF outcomes, for Outcome 1 (Support to Sustainable Livelihoods), the UNCT continued to work with the
Government to promote equitable growth based on sustainable use of the country’s natural resource wealth. The need to preserve the
environment has become more pressing to the Government and people of Lao PDR since the devastating impact of the recent Typhoon Ketsana
in 2009 illustrated the country’s vulnerability to the ill-effects of climate change. UN programmes are being developed and implemented to
support the country in this and related area. The UN in Lao is also working with the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Water
Resources and Environment Administration to develop partnerships that improve the capacity of the Government and other stakeholders to
integrate the environmental concerns of poor and vulnerable groups into policy, planning and investment processes for poverty reduction and
achieving the MDGs.
                                                  The UN recognizes the need to address the “chronic crisis” of malnutrition. As a key
component to MDG1, the UN focused on further advocacy and coordination of nutrition-related activities from both health and food security
perspective. Increased collaboration in strategic planning enabled the creation of the first National Nutrition Policy, Strategy and Plan of Action.
They reflect the local context and are consistent with global best practices. Common goals and distinct responsibilities outlined in the Strategy
and Plan of Action – that were signed in November 2009 – would enable well-coordinated implementation and provide full transparency and
accountability for all stakeholders.
For Outcome 2 (Support to Quality Social Services) key highlights include UNs support to data management via LaoINFO that organizes and
consolidates data on national social-economic indicators. This database contains over 500 indicators from a variety of data sources, including the
2nd MDG Progress Report, 2005 Census, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey and the Lao Reproductive Health Survey. Such tool is increasingly
preparing the Government to make evidence-based and informed decisions on national development planning as well as monitoring and
evaluation. Also, in the area of education, a joint evaluation collaboration between the Government and development partners confirmed
positive results with respect to enrolment, attendance and learning, especially among girls, in schools adopting the Schools of Quality approach.
It is envisaged that the approach will be rolled out in the 56 most educationally disadvantaged districts, with funding expected from the Fast
Track Initiative combined with resources from other partners. This programme represented the first step in putting the strategies of the ESDF
into action, and towards a more coordinated approach to the achievement of the MDGs and Education for All.

For Outcome 3 (Support to Governance and Human Rights) key highlights include the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women’s (CEDAW) combined 6th and 7th report of the Lao PDR on the implementation of the Convention. The UNCT
supported the Government’s preparation of the report and its participation in the Committee session. The brief to the CEDAW by the UN
contributed towards a constructive dialogue with the Government in the review of the country’s efforts in CEDAW implementation. The
document responded to the request by the Committee to the UN to provide updated data summaries and enhanced gender analysis of women’s
human rights situation and responses in Lao PDR. Subsequently the UNCT has begun supporting the Government on in its efforts towards
reporting on its progress in 2011. To promote people’s participation in public affairs, UN also provided support both to the National Assembly,
through a joint UN programme. UN helped establish the first ever community radio in the Lao PDR which broadcasts in three ethnic languages:
Lao, Khmu and Hmong. This important initiative gave people a voice and enabled them to communicate their aspirations to a wider audience.

Key Aspects of the Proposed 2009 Workplan
• UN Reform/UNDAF – Throughout the year the RCO will scale up substantial effort to developing capacity of the UN Reform both within and
outside the UN system. Over the years it has become clear that capacity development for the UN Reform is critical for effective support to the
Government as well as effective donor coordination. Without capacity, coordination has limited effect, outreach and influence. The RCs
operation will strongly pivot around this underlying theme in its coordination work.

• MDG – The UN will continue to support Government’s effort in development the next 5-year 7th NSEDP, which is closely linked to the MDGs.
Whereas the Government set country-specific targets and indicators into the current 5-year 6th NSEDP Plan that made it MDG-oriented, it was
not MDG-based. The anticipated 7th NSEDP, which outlines an overall picture and direction for national development from 2011-2015, focuses
more on the strategies that correspond to the direct achievement of the MDG targets. In this sense, the 7th NSEDP is MDG-based document,
opening the opportunity for the UN to further dialogue with the Government and development partners on some of the key socio-development
issues. In specific, the UN will continue to support the Government in its activation of the MDG road map, which builds on the findings and
recommendations of the MDG Progress Report, the mid-term review of the 6th NSEDP as well as consultations with various partners. With the
MDG road map, the UN and the Government will focus key development areas to accelerate reducing poverty, by ensuring that socially and
geographically disadvantaged communities are given the opportunity to enter the development agenda.

• Aid Effectiveness / 7th NSEDP – With the Government leading the process, the UN will continue to support the 7th NSEDP. As a common
development framework between the Government and development partners, the UN will maintain its overall coordination role in support of
creating an environment conducive to growth and human development. While the targets may be ambitious, there is a general consensus in
support of strong growth policies, including private sector engagement, trade facilitation, and regional and global integration. To this extent, the
coordination role assumed by the UN and in particular, the Resident Coordinator, is an important function that will be backstopped and
enhanced with UNs response in the form of quality UNDAF.

Recommendations
•Strengthening Country Support - to ensure adequate and timely support available to the country offices. Timely and adequate support is
especially relevant and important for UNDAF rollout countries, given the rapid changes in the landscape of UN Reform. Funding support
continues to be an important aspect of support. Nevertheless, there are various other support areas that would enhance country office
operations, ranging from on-time, on-demand technical assistance; resource persons and facilitator availability; to well-archived information
management system that is accessible and readily available. In practice this requires Headquarters to organize better in its data management
system as well as provision of designated staff adequate in number and capacity to provide direct country support in guiding the UNDAF process
to the roll-out countries.

•Policy Support - increasing support from the Headquarters in devising a corporate level policy in linking the all UN agencies and entities in
committing to the UN Reform. It is critical that country offices of all UN agencies can operate under a common policy and managerial framework
in implementing the UN Reform. Increased agency ownership for the UN Reform would be better attained by all UN agencies at the country
level, if they can function under a same corporate policy and managerial framework on the Reform. While some visible efforts are being made at
the Headquarters, further commitment can augment this ownership by all agencies.

•Strengthening Country Support - to ensure adequate and timely support available to the country offices. Timely and adequate support is
especially relevant and important for UNDAF rollout countries, given the rapid changes in the landscape of UN Reform. Funding support
continues to be an important aspect of support. Nevertheless, there are various other support areas that would enhance country office
operations, ranging from on-time, on-demand technical assistance; resource persons and facilitator availability; to well-archived information
management system that is accessible and readily available. In practice this requires Headquarters to organize better in its data management
system as well as provision of designated staff adequate in number and capacity to provide direct country support in guiding the UNDAF process
to the roll-out countries.
•Policy Support - increasing support from the Headquarters in devising a corporate level policy in linking the all UN agencies and entities in
committing to the UN Reform. It is critical that country offices of all UN agencies can operate under a common policy and managerial framework
in implementing the UN Reform. Increased agency ownership for the UN Reform would be better attained by all UN agencies at the country
level, if they can function under a same corporate policy and managerial framework on the Reform. While some visible efforts are being made at
the Headquarters, further commitment can augment this ownership by all agencies.

Yours Sincerely,

Sonam Yangchen Rana
UN Resident Coordinator – Lao PDR

								
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