EU helping improve living conditions of Phongsaly ethnic communities

EU helping improve living conditions of Phongsaly ethnic communities

The European Union (EU) appreciated the success of its funded projects in Phongsaly province which has contributed to helping local communities get out of extreme poverty, according to leading officials.

EU Charge d'Affaires Michel Goffin and French Ambassador Claudine Ledoux led a delegation to visit projects funded by the EU, France and other European Development Partners in Khua, May and Samphan districts of Phongsaly province to assess the projects' implementation and achievements.

Mr Goffin said one of the most pleasing things is the success of the project activities. “Many villagers have got out of extreme poverty, [but] I'm not saying that they are rich …”

He said some villagers had many children but are able to send them to schools. They were not only growing rice but also other crops which generated higher income to improve their livelihoods.

Mr Goffin said he was impressed to see good cooperation between NGOs and the government in project activities that included women as he believed women would change the life of the villagers for the better.

Since 2006 the EU has contributed more than 6 million euros for Care International's Food Security Project and Remote Ethnic Women Programme to help improve the equitable quality of life for remote ethnic women, who are land poor, have the highest food insecurity and lowest nutrition and health status in the four districts of Khua, May, Samphan and Nhot-ou.

Some 62 villages are expected to benefit from various activities designed to promote women's opportunities for income generation; to build resilience to climate change; to strengthen women's role in the economy; to improve food insecurity and nutrition status; to promote better maternal; neonatal and reproductive health and hygiene; to promote respect, value and voice of remote ethnic women; to reduce gender based violence and to build the capacities of district officials in order to ensure ethnic women's access to basic services.

Phongsaly also benefited from the 19.6 million euros Northern Upland Development Programme (NUDP), of which half of the figure was contributed by the EU. The programme is to eradicate poverty and to achieve sustainable development in the Northern Uplands for 230 villages of nine districts in Phongsaly, Huapan and Luang Prabang provinces and aims at securing and improving the livelihoods of the rural poor in selected areas of the Northern Uplands, based on community- driven approaches to sustainable land management and agricultural production.

Under this programme, the delegation visited a pasture improvement project, goat farm, coffee and cardamom plantation, a cardamom oven and storage facility in Samphan district as well as an agricultural technical service centre in May district where the programme provided capacity building on fish and mushroom production techniques and livestock raising.

Phongsaly is one of the poorest provinces in Laos, where 61 percent of children under five years old are stunted; 62 percent of people still practice open defecation; 65 percent of villages are considered poor and only 35 percent of villages have a health facility within two hours travel time.

By Somsack Pongkhao 

(Latest Update April 4, 2016)

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