Vientiane Times, 17 Oct 2012
The Northern Uplands Development Programme (NUDP) is pioneering a programme-based approach to help reduce poverty in the uplands of Laos. The programme began in 2010 under the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry with the participation of the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the National Committee on Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (NCRDPE).
The NUDP annual national steering committee meeting was held in Vientiane on Friday, chaired by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Dr Phouangparisak Pravongviengkham, and co-chaired by the deputy governors of Phongsaly and Luang Prabang provinces. The meeting reviewed progress over the past year and included reports from the three target provinces, Luang Prabang, Huaphan and Phongsaly as well as from the ministries of Agriculture and Forestry and Natural Resources and Environment, and the NCRDPE. Those making presentations noted that achievements had been made in Land Use Planning and in promoting village level development planning. The work plan and budget for 2012-2013 were endorsed.
The progress of developing programme procedures was almost complete, it was noted, and efforts had been made in capacity building, with training for provincial and district staff. At the national level, the Sector Working Group for Agriculture and Rural Development has been re-activated and the NUDP provided funding for a range of policy research that was being carried out by the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute and other agencies. Dr Phouangparisak noted that the programme was in line with the government policy on capacity building at all three levels of government, saying there is now a strong emphasis on building government capacity at the provincial and district levels. However, work still needs to be done to improve coordination at these decentralised levels, he said, adding that it was also important that the work plan and budget distribution were carried out effectively to see results come to fruition.
He said it was important to conduct field activities with the districts as the implementing units supported by the provinces as the strategic units. Dr Phouangparisak also said it was important for the government to maintain good relationships with its international development partners, particularly as the NUDP was intended to be the first stage of a multi-stage process toward creating a wider and more inclusive programme for the uplands.
He concluded by congratulating the NUDP for its improved performance and looked forward to further progress in the coming year. If local people see real benefits in these three provinces, the programme will be expanded to all eight northern provinces, he stressed.
The Northern Uplands Development Programme is being supported by the European Union, France, and Switzerland, who contribute to a pool fund, and by Germany through a bilateral agreement with the government of Laos.