Story by: Sweet Lemon

People Story: Youth Learning About Land and Natural Resources Through ‘The River of Diagrams’

“Youth is the backbone of the nation”, a word that has been around for a long time, but the author sees it as a word that attracts and reflects the important driving force for effective movement and full of enthusiasm. But in reality, in Lao society, young people are still limited in expressing their opinions, especially in the decision-making process. So if young people have a space to express themselves and have their vocabulary shuffled, it would be a reflection of the phrase ‘young people are the backbone of the nation’ , especially in understanding the current changes that are taking place in relation to natural resources such as this group.

Ten youth representatives attended a Stella team home-based facilitation training and facilitation course.

Travel to Houay Phat village, Kham district, Xieng Khouang province to do river diagram activities

In early February, the authors had the opportunity to participate in activities under the Youth Role Project in Dissemination of Land and Natural Resources Conservation Information in the community. The activities of the youth are that they travel to their hometowns to return to learn and collect information on changes in natural resources, especially changes in land and natural resources in their own villages.

Participants in this project are young people from many ethnic groups such as Khmu, Hmong, Lao Lum, Phong and Mieu from Xieng Khouang, Houaphanh, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bolikhamxay and Champassak provinces.

The highlight of this youth’s learning is to bring the ‘River Diagram’ method or tool they were trained for from the previous Life and Stella project to use and carry out activities in their hometowns.

Drawing of village changes in 2019 on natural resources and land on the river plan, at Ban Huay Yang, Sanasomboon district, Champassak province

Divide into focus groups on natural resource change within the village, in Ban Huay Yang, Mueang Sanasomboon, Champassak Province

The River of diagrams in English is a way to engage in dialogue and exchange of ideas on natural resource change. Carrying out this activity helps the youth to be able to collect information about the changes in their village well. In the process of the activity, there is a discussion between the people in the village and the exchange of knowledge between the people as well as parents, relatives and people in the village with the youth to learn and exchange ideas.

Having the opportunity to participate in the activities of this group of young people, the author learned a lot and was able to visualize the changing nature of natural resources through community storytelling through the leadership activities of the youth involved in this program. Although the area of the activity is not the author’s own hometown, the storytelling process through community imagery allows the author to visualize the changes that take place from time to time.

Adolescents describe the activities of the river diagram, Hat Yao Village, Nam Tha District, Luang Namtha Province.

Leading activities to create a youthful atmosphere before starting the watermarking activity. At Namhaeng Village, Xay District, Oudomxay Province

The most important thing I saw from participating in this event was the enthusiasm and dedication of this group of young people who are determined to learn about changes in natural resources through the stories of the parents in the village.

The question that arises in the discussion is ‘How can we resolve this issue?’ Still nodding their heads and thinking that this group of young people is the same, but nonetheless, they are aware of their commitment to be a part of finding a way to work with the people in the village to find common solutions to the problems they are facing.

Following this Life Stream Drawing activity, the young people will gather to share lessons learned from the activities of each activity in each village and will jointly analyze the data to provide them with background information on future activities, as well as to bring their land and land related information to the area.

The learning of people, including young people in this group, is like a river with different flow rhythms, but the impact causes different flows, some fast, some slow, or some stopping, which is not different from the changes that occur in each stream.
The author will tell the story and share the pictures of the activities of this group of youth in the readers again in the activities against the face.

The Land and Natural Resources Conservation Dissemination Project is run by Life, Stella and the Public Legal Services Center (CLE) with support from Voice Laos, Oxfam.

The youth explain the purpose and activities of the water diagram to the villagers. At Houay On Village, Nafum District, Oudomxay Province

After the Teme villagers mapped out a change in natural resources. Adolescents are re-introduced to the water diagram periodically. At Houay Yang Village, Sanasomboon District, Champassak Province

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    Phonsavanh Tai village, Sisattanak district, Vientiane capital, Lao PDR.