LAOS


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The Lao program focuses on poor, vulnerable and marginalized communities in the southern uplands. VFI Laos has three core programmatic areas: ‘Healthy Village and Local Leadership’, which is an integrated development initiative focusing on local leadership, Land and Livelihoods, which focuses on land rights and natural resource management, and Protection and Empowerment for Women and Children (PEWC), which includes a Shelter, education and awareness raising regarding trafficking, illegal migration for labor, youth leadership, etc. We are built upon the leadership of well trained, motivated and dynamic local Lao staff. Land security & local management of natural resources are two of the most critical requirements of a healthy village. Without the security to use, manage and profit from the land, people lose a sense of ownership and connectedness, which could lead to a breakdown of communities as well the destruction and sell-off of natural resources. We currently work in the uplands of southern Laos (near the Vietnamese border) working with multiple civil society members, government and private sector partners to give the program activities wide and lasting impact. We work with remote, usually ethnic minority communities, focusing on local leadership issues as well as a range of specific land rights activities. This is a complex and important issue, and involves the effort to protect and manage forest and water resources, which local people rely upon for daily food and livelihood needs.


Lao PDR

Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) is a landlocked country located in the heart of Southeast Asia. Lao PDR shares its borders with Vietnam in the east, Thailand in the west, China and Myanmar in the north and Cambodia in the south. Laos remains one of the poorest countries in Asia and least developed in Southeast Asia, eighty per cent of Lao’s public investment programs are funded by foreign aid. We work with villages along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, which was bombed more heavily than any location on earth during the U.S.’s “Secret War” on Laos during the Vietnam War. The social and economic problems linger especially among villages in remote areas such as in the south of Lao, where we focus our work to eradicate food shortages, illiteracy, health problems, and outside threats to land and livelihoods. Although Lao people have a strong understanding of their communities’ best interests, they live in extreme poverty and too often lack critical resources and technical training needed to improve their quality of life. Our Laos staff work closely with communities to promote local leadership and we are proud of the bridge that we have built between these leaders and international supporters so that vulnerable communities have the resources they need to protect themselves from mounting outside threats on their land rights, health, traditional culture and livelihoods. We remain one of the key programs supporting villages to obtain a better quality of life.


Lao PDR Data

Population:
6.8 million
Major Religions:
Theravada Buddhism, Animism
Climate:
Tropical monsoon
Official Language:
Lao
Government Type:
Communist party-led state
GDP per capita:
$1,818
Income level:
Lower middle
Main exports:
Tin, Coffee, Timber and wood products
Primary school enrollment(% gross):
116%
Life expectancy:
66 years
Infant mortality:
51/1000 live births
Mortality rate(under-5, per 1,000):
61
Prevalence of HIV:
0.1%
Source: The World Bank Data 2015

Our Village Association

In the Lao PDR, the official for local NGOs has been extremely slow, and registering new Non Profit Associations (or NPA-the local term roughly equivalent to NGOs) is possible but cumbersome. Although this is frustrating to the ambitions of Lao people who have the desire and potential to assume greater roles in the development of their country, alternatives do exist. Foremost among these is for Lao staff working in existing international organizations to take on increasing responsibilities within those organizations.