One in seven households in Lao PDR is food insecure (14 percent).1 The trajectory of the food security situation remains uncertain, with inflation rising to 34 percent in September 2 and prices of key commodities rising each month. Additional monitoring of the situation in the coming months will be important to inform action.
Food insecurity affects different parts of the country unevenly. In some districts, about 25 percent of households are food insecure, while in others, 5 percent are food insecure. Interestingly, rural areas are more food insecure (17 percent) than urban areas (9 percent). The difference is particularly evident when considering the food security situation in the Vientiane capital (5 percent).
Low-income families are particularly affected. Those experiencing a significant decrease in income (>50 percent) are twice as likely to be food insecure (25 percent) as those whose incomes remain the same or increase (10 percent).
A large portion of the population relies on coping strategies to put food on the table and meet other essential needs. More than half of households are shifting to livelihood-based spending strategies. Savings, cutting down on health expenses and borrowing money to buy food or meet other essential needs.
People are most worried about rising food prices. About 33 percent of the households indicated that the rise in food prices was their major concern. This concern was three times greater than any other single concern.
This is due to the fact that nearly a quarter of the population (23 percent) have problems accessing the market. Rising prices, difficulty in accessing markets and high dependence on coping strategies can further worsen the food security situation. Despite the obvious economic and social progress of the past few years, the effects of Covid-19, along with the current global food crisis, threaten to reverse development gains in Lao PDR.