May 17, 2022 - The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MOHS), the Australian Government and UNICEF visit Nong, Savannakhet Province, to follow up on the Mother and Early Childhood Grant program, which is a non-partisan, non-partisan program.
The visiting delegation included Mr. Lee Pao Yang, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Ms. Felicity Weaver, UNICEF Australia Country Director for International Programs, and Dr. Pierre Belbritto, UNICEF Representative in Lao PDR The delegation visited health centers in Ban Tang Alai and Ban Dong San and listened to reports from health officials on the implementation of the project at the community level. The delegation also met with beneficiaries of the program to hear about how cash assistance has been provided to support pregnant women, nursing mothers and newborns with access to health and nutrition services.
"Social protection plays an important role in tackling poverty, disability and poverty alleviation," said Li Pao Yang. This project is one of the major social assistance and child protection projects underway in Lao PDR and provides comprehensive support for pregnant women, mothers and children. "During this visit, we saw how the project has strengthened the national social protection strategy and social assistance delivery system, which is to ensure that no one is left behind."
Cash Aid is one of the most cost-effective ways to relocate at-risk communities due to its fast, secure and reliable delivery. Under the Cash Assistance Program for Pregnant Women and Preschoolers, Cash Assistance is provided to pregnant women and children up to 12 months of age. The program provides 300,000 kip for pregnant women and nursing mothers every two months to enable them to access adequate nutrition and health services in the first 1,000 days of a child's life. They will receive this cash aid through two forms, either through the u-money electronic payment app, or through a home-based cash payment provided by Star Fintech.
Boonmee Suvannalath, Education Officer at the Australian Embassy in Lao PDR, said: “The Australian Government is very pleased that our support has been met to meet the needs of mothers and children in Lao PDR. The Cash Assistance Program for Pregnant Women and Preschool Children is community centered and gives mothers the freedom to spend money on what is most important to their well-being. "Supplying maternity benefits with cash will also help the local economy as these funds will be used within the community and will contribute to the socio-economic development of Lao PDR."
The Cash Assistance Program for Pregnant Women and Preschoolers is part of the United Nations Joint Program, "Leaving No One Behind: Creating a Basic Social Protection System in Lao PDR," a joint initiative between the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations. Capital Development Fund). This joint project aims to build the capacity of the Government of Lao PDR in planning, managing and implementing the National Social Protection Strategy, signed in April 2020, which is a roadmap for the development of a social protection system, with a program for early childhood education and early childhood programs.
"We are seeing the side effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on those most at risk in society, including mothers and children in disadvantaged areas. . The cash assistance under this project demonstrates UNICEF's commitment to the empowerment of Lao women, gender equality, and the improvement of women's financial status at this critical juncture, as well as empowerment at the central level. Pierre Belo Britto.
The implementation of the joint United Nations project is led by the Ministry of Social Welfare in collaboration with the relevant ministries, provincial and district authorities of the pilot districts and the United Nations in Lao PDR. The pilot project has been implemented since January 2020 in Samxay and Phouvong districts, Attapeu province and Nong district, Savannakhet province.
The project is co-financed by the Australian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Joint SDG Fund for Social Protection, with the Ministry of Social Welfare leading and coordinating implementation at both central and local levels.