Reducing poverty in remote communities of Oudomxay Province, Lao PDR

Reducing poverty in remote communities of Oudomxay Province, Lao PDR

The PRPU is a participatory project which has been designed to match the specific needs of northern uplands ethnic minorities. The villagers ‘contribution is very important: they are involved in all phases of the project cycle of operation. Moreover, the local authorities and especially the PAFO are really supportive and cooperative, making our partnership very effective.

M. Kongmany THAMMAVONGXAY, CCL Oudomxay project coordinator (CCL staff since 2014)

CONTEXT

In northern Laos, poverty incidence remains high particularly among minority populations living in remote upland areas. In Oudomxay Province, 55% of Children under 5 years are stunted, and 47% of the households have no access to improved sanitation. The poorest villages rely on shifting cultivation due to limited areas of lowlands and have a high dependency towards natural resources and forests use. Communities have to address challenging issues: depletion of natural resources, pressure and reduction of available lands, transition of extensive- subsistence led model to market oriented systems

OBJECTIVES

  • The overall objective of the project is to speed up poverty reduction in the uplands of Oudomxay through a combined effort carried out by beneficiaries and supported by local authorities.
  • The specific objectives are to improve food security, income and health in the poorest villages of Nga, Namor and La districts.
  • Increase local capacity among villagers, local authorities and non-state actors to support participatory development with respect for the environment, indigenous rights and gender equality.

RESULTS

  • The number of households classified as poor went down 45% by the end of the project.
  • The prevalence of underweight CHU5 has decreased by 70% by the end of the project.
  • 2000 participants to agricultural training including organic home garden, fish pond, beekeeping; small livestock raising.
  • The number of villages suffering from diarrhea and worm infection decreased by 80%, in the 3 target districts.
  • The number of target families facing rice shortage every year has been reduced by 25%.
  • Nutrition LANN trainings for 35 000 villagers, 48% of women, 6300 participants to the health outreach, women participation 45%.
  • 57 villages have set community-based natural Resources Management plans, 38 fish protection areas have been created.
  • 200 Ha with improved irrigation for 287 beneficiaries from 16 villages, 60 farmers have experimented improved rice cultivation techniques (SRS).

FACTS AND FIGURES

  • Positive behavior changes on pesticides use observed in 43 villages.
  • Positive behavior changes in nutrition and health observed in 53 villages.
  • 566 HH from 19 villages benefit from cardamom (total area 135 Ha), 185 HH from galangal.
  • Water supply built in 27 villages for 3000 HH, 500 latrines in 12 villages.
  • The average income in target villages increased by 37%.
  • Awareness on pesticide use : 3000 participants from 34 villages.
  • 45 marketing groups have been created.

TESTIMONY

Testimony of Mrs. My, Leu ethnic group, 40 years old, Thakouang village, Nga District

"I am a mother of 4 kids, including 3 girls. I used to breastfeed all of them, but sometimes I did not have enough breast milk and I had to buy some cow’s milk from the market in order to supplement their diet. I belong to the Leu ethnic group and during the postpartum period we traditionally have to observe food taboos: I was allowed to eat only ginger soup with salt and rice. Meat, vegetables and fruits were forbidden during a period of 2 or 3 months. I was feeling weak. I could see that my babies were not growing strong and were often sick, I realize now that they were probably suffering from dietary deficiencies.

"Before the project, the situation in the village was quite difficult.  We had no water supply in the village. We used to spend a lot of time-and especially women, to collect water into the mountains. It was exhausting.  So sometimes we used to drink un-potable water collected directly from the river. There were no latrines in the village and we had to defecate in the forest. We used to eat unclean food as raw meat, duck raw blood and uncooked vegetables for example.  We did not use mosquito nets.

"Thanks to the project, my community‘s living conditions have really improved. Now we have built water supply and latrines in the village. We have better knowledge on hygiene and health. All my family’s members are healthy, we do not suffer from stomach ache anymore.

"I have also participated to the nutrition trainings organized by the CCL and now I am able to provide advices to my children. In 2016, my daughter Nang Sengda got married, she was 21 years old. Shortly after, she gave birth to a 2.9 Kg baby. I recommend her to unobserve the food taboos as we traditionally used to.  I urge her to eat meat, fishes and fruit in order to have enough and rich breast milk for her baby. My daughter followed my recommendation during the postpartum period, my grandson is now 9 months old and he is growing strong and healthy! Her mother keeps on breastfeeding him, he is never sick!"