Australia backs new Laos social development survey

16:22, June 08, 2011      

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The Australian Agency for International Development has granted 300,000 AUD (about 320,000 U. S. dollars) to support a nationwide social development survey in Laos, which aims to provide up to date data to inform future policies and programs in the developing country.

Australia's contribution to the Lao Social Indicator Survey (LSIS) is earmarked for field data collection, which is planned for September 2011 in 20,000 households in 1,000 villages around the country.

Funding for the research is being channeled through the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

Assistant Representative of UNFPA Pafoualee Leechuefoung told Xinhua on Wednesday that the LSIS was part of the Lao National Development Strategy of Statistical System (2010-2020).

"The survey provides a comprehensive selection of data on key social development indicators in order to support the monitoring of Millennium Development Goals and to establish a baseline for the seventh National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP)," said Pafoualee.

She added that the LSIS would be "the main nationally representative household survey that provides information on key national indicators in the social sector, such as maternal health, child health, education, nutrition and HIV/AIDS."

The LSIS combines two surveys that were previously conducted separately: the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (1996, 2000 and 2006) and the Lao Reproductive Health Survey (1995, 2000 and 2005). The research will also draw on the Demographic and Health Survey, which is conducted worldwide.

The main focus of the LSIS is health, including reproductive, maternal and child health, contraception, sexual behavior, HIV/ AIDS and nutrition. It will also collect data on education, child protection, child development, and water and sanitation.

"From the Lao Reproductive Health (survey) experience, the challenges in conducting a survey (in Laos) are that some survey areas are difficult to access, especially in remote and mountainous areas, and it's also challenging to recruit female enumerators (for female respondents) who are important to ensure quality of the survey, since many topics of the survey are sensitive," said Pafoualee.

Data obtained from the LSIS will be analyzed and disaggregated to national and provincial level, so each of the country's 16 provinces and the capital can use survey results for planning, monitoring and advocacy in the social sector.

Pafoualee said the results of LSIS are expected in 2012, and will be widely published and disseminated.

"The LSIS will provide information needed by planners, policymakers and program administrators to assess the current situation and trends in Laos, and to design more effective programs aimed at achieving positive outcomes in the future," she said.

"The results will be used as a baseline for the seventh NSEDP monitoring framework, as well as for other relevant social sector plans, such as the health sectoral plan, and to gauge the country' s progress in achieving the Millennium Development Goals."

The LSIS is a major undertaking with an estimated cost of 1.3 million U.S. dollars.

The survey is being coordinated and led by the Lao Ministry of Health with technical support from the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Department of Statistics, and is backed by UNFPA, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund, the United States Agency for International Development, Australia, Luxembourg, the United Nations Development Programme, World Health Organization and Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Source: Xinhua
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