The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Mr Yung Soo Jung handed over a rice donation to Lao PDR’s Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Madame Baykham Khatthiya, at the Ministry’s and the United Nations World Food Programme’s (WFP) warehouse in Vientiane.
To support the people of Lao PDR in adjusting to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fiscal challenges induced by the global food and fuel crisis, the Republic of Korea continues to donate rice for distribution to the country’s most vulnerable communities. For the second year in a row, 1,314 tons of rice, worth approximately US$1.26 million, have arrived at the warehouse in Vientiane, to soon benefit more than 100,000 Laotians.
“The rice donation from the Republic of Korea will continue to benefit those in remote areas where natural disasters are prone to happen, as well as some of the most disadvantaged young people of our nation. We are grateful for the support from the Republic of Korea, especially at this time when communities feel the burden of rising food, fuel and fertilizer prices,” Minister Mme Baykham said.
Lao PDR, already challenged by high malnutrition rates, is particularly vulnerable to socio-economic shocks and to the effects of climate change, including floods and droughts, which cause losses of harvests and livelihoods. The donation will be used to pilot a national emergency rice reserve for improved targeting of vulnerable populations in case of food shortages, as well as to provide emergency rice rations to disadvantaged youths in ethnic boarding schools and schools for persons with disabilities.
“The Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has provided emergency rice to countries via the World Food Programme since 2018. Laos is a beneficiary of this support since 2021, and we are very interested to keep strengthen food security with our support, which is in line with our Republic’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and our focus on solidarity between Korea and ASEAN countries,” said Ambassador Jung.
“We value the expanding relationship we have with the Republic of Korea, which is swiftly becoming one of our most important donors. With Korean rice, WFP was able to provide emergency food assistance to help 10,091 people in Xayabouly Province recover from the impacts of the tropical storm Koguma in 2021, and to top up school meal food rations for 84,000 school children, strengthening the government’s School Meals Programme. This year’s rice donation will again be strategically allocated to help the people most in need in Lao PDR,” said WFP Country Director and Representative Mr Jan Delbaere.
Existing donors to WFP’s Lao PDR programme include China, Ireland, France, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Russia, the United States and private donors.