LAOS - Luxembourg response to food insecurity during COVID-19 pandemic in rural areas
Mrs. Onkeo, 35, married with four children, Namuang village, Fouang District, Vientiane province, © LuxDev
My main source of income is rice farming but what we harvested is not enough. I work as a daily farm labourer to have additional money to buy food. The rice support will help because we will not spend a lot now for rice. I am very happy with the support from the project. The project also supported us to construct our latrines
Mrs. Vanh, 50, mother, Houaypamak Village, Met District, Vientiane province, © LuxDev
I received 80 kilograms of sticky rice. This will be a big help for us during the lean season. It means that I can save money for buying rice. I will buy salt, other food items and other necessities with the 400,000 LAK that I received. I am very happy and thankful to the project because it also supported me with housing materials and with the construction of my latrine.
Mrs. Kiao, 39, mother of five children, Daendin village, Kasi District, Vientiane Province, © LuxDev
I am very happy with the project. It has supported us in many ways such as with the repair of the water system; we don’t need to walk far to get water these days. It also supported the villagers to construct latrines which made the village cleaner, and now it provided us with rice, which will last up to two months and reduces my burden of working outside to earn money.”I am very happy with the project. It has supported us in many ways such as with the repair of the water system; we don’t need to walk far to get water these days. It also supported the villagers to construct latrines which made the village cleaner, and now it provided us with rice, which will last up to two months and reduces my burden of working outside to earn money.
The coronavirus was declared a pandemic on the second week of March 2020. By March 30, the Lao government announced a strict lockdown for the country and the closure of borders, except for entry of basic food items and medicine. This triggered the massive return of Lao nationals who were working in Thailand and other countries.
In the districts of Vientiane Province where the Local Development Programme - LAO/030 is working, a number of returnees had to be quarantined in schools. Although going to the farms and the gathering of non-timber forest products (NTFPs) were permitted, the villagers were not able to find sufficient food. This is due to the sudden increase of the number of people dependent on the natural resources (forests, rivers and ponds) and the increase in the number of people to be fed. Aggravating the condition is that many households did not have a good harvest in the last cropping season and were declared to be rice insufficient. The LAO/030 team coordinated with the villages and districts to assess the actual and projected needs of the villages with special emphasis on those who are rice insufficient, those who are indigent and those households who are supporting members with disabilities. Based on the identified needs from the four provinces, a discussion was held on how these needs may be responded to – initially it was agreed that the COVID-19 response would come from the existing Village Development Fund (VDF). However, with the high level of needs identified, the Luxembourg government decided to provide an additional 1 million EUR dedicated to this response.
Households with rice insufficiency received 60 kilograms of rice, the destitute households received 80 kg of rice plus an additional 400,000 Lao Kip (about 40 EUR), and households supporting members with disabilities were provided with 80 kg of rice. The support also included hygiene kits for the total village population, and an emergency fund that will be used for isolation and for hospitalization in case COVID cases are identified later.
The total value of support to Vientiane Province is 163,947 EUR, benefitting 30,800 people from 41 villages. The officers and staff of the Department of Planning and Investment, District Planning Offices, the Village Development Committees, with the village authorities managed the distribution with the support of the LAO/030 staff from LuxDev.
After the distribution of rice and hygiene kits to the villages, monitoring of the COVID-19 situation will continue. At the same time, implementation of other planned activities such as provision of infrastructure, strengthening capacity of village authorities and Village Development Committees, and implementation of livelihoods development activities under the Village Credit Scheme and village grant scheme will proceed, trusting that these activities will improve the communities’ readiness and resilience towards other possible emergencies and their ability to adjust to the new normal of living with the coronavirus.↑ To the top