LAOS - Local development in support of poverty reductionFirst-Person reflection by Emma Aguiñot, LAO/030 International Province Adviser, Vientiane Province
It was in May 2017 when I first met my colleagues. There must have been 50 of us in total, with ages ranging from 25 to 70. I still remember the air of excitement and uncertainty in the room during our programme orientation, as we all smiled and assured each other – and ourselves – that we would fully grasp what our jobs and roles would entail once we start in the field.
Emma Aguiñot (left) is interviewing with one of the target households in Kasi district, Vientiane Province. Photo credit: LuxDev
It was a slow but firm start. We validated the target villages that were recommended to us by our partners. In Vientiane Province, we validated 100 villages in order to end up with the final 41 villages that we are working with now.
Building of mutual respect and trust between LuxDev-hired staff and the staff of the partner agency increased, I can now confidently say that we trust each other in a way that allows us to work simultaneously in different areas when needed. This relationship has evolved in a positive way and has been strengthened by the systems that were established to promote transparency and accountability.
We shared frustrations when things did not turn out as expected and shared successes when we achieved our targets. We have jointly witnessed district staff evolve and grow in their positions as coordinators of different components. We have seen their children and families grow. We have seen a lot of movement of government staff and political leaders; and above all, we have seen people suffering due to poverty. We have seen people being very close to suffering from social exclusion. We hurt when they are unable to speak the language or when they have difficulties expressing themselves even in their own language. We were moved by this and by their spirit to fight poverty.
Below are just a few of the people who have inspired us to do more, to try harder, so that we can reach them. It is amazing to note that in the space of four years the communities have been able to do so many things through our project, but at the same time, we feel that there is still much left to do.
Faces of People Fighting Poverty
Ms Moth, Pakngan Village, Met District, Vientiane Province. Photo credit: LuxDev
My name is Moh, I am 59 years old. I am a widow with five children. Three of my children are married, while my two younger sons still stay with me in the house. We are classified as a destitute household. We do upland rice cultivation and I plant job’s tears. Five years ago, we did not have any problems with rice insufficiency because our ricefield produced enough and my husband was still alive. Since he passed away, my family has had problems with rice insufficiency. Currently our family’s main income comes from selling job’s tears and fish from the Mekong. We do not earn enough to buy things for daily consumption. Last year, my rice ran out in August. It was very good for me to receive the 80 kg of rice from LAO/030 and the cash transfer of 400,000 LAK. I spent 150,000 LAK on transportation to bring me to the hospital. I received support for constructing a latrine, and I am also using the gravity fed water system. I am hoping that the rice that I got from LAO/030 will cover our needs until the next rice harvest. I would like to request additional support from LAO/030 to set up a productive activity such as pig or poultry raising.
Ms Phong, Namai Village, Hinheup District, Vientiane Province. Photo credit: LuxDev
I am Phong, 44 years old, married and I have three children. I am raising my children alone. I just plant and sell vegetables. I don’t have a ricefield, I just receive support from my daughter who is working in the Vientiane Capital. LAO/030 is a very good project. It is helping our village. It supported households without latrines to get one, and I received this support. Under the COVID-19 response, I got 80 kg of rice and 400,000 LAK in cash. It helped a lot, as I have expenses for my children’s schooling and I need to buy other items for consumption. I would like to thank the project for supporting us. I would like to ask the project for support so that my children can finish high school and eventually attend a vocational school, college or university. I would like to request the project to provide us with technical knowhow to engage in productive activities, which may help me increase my income.
Mr Bounthone (left), Namfuang Village, Met District, Vientiane province. Photo credit: LuxDev
I am Bounthone. I am 22 years old and I am married to Sony Yang. I am 22 and she is 21 and we have a six-month old baby girl. I am Laoluum and Sony is Hmong, from Houaykua. We married last year. The main source of our income is a 0.04 hectare of lowland rice area. When we have a good harvest, we only have one month of rice insufficiency, but when it is a bad harvest, it can be up to 4 or 5 months. We did not have a good harvest in the last cropping season. I received 80 kg of good quality sticky rice from LAO/030, which we are consuming now. We are keeping the little of what is left of the harvest for later. After harvesting rice, I plant vegetables and peanuts. I also provide labour for the villagers to earn money for household necessities. I am hoping to repair my house as soon as the Buddhist lent is over. I received housing materials from the project and the villagers will help me to change the roof.
Ms Phong, Phato Village, Kasi District, Vientiane Province. Photo credit: LuxDev
I am Phong, I am 28 years old, married and have two children. My husband is Jek, he is 30 years old and my eldest daughter is a year 3 student at primary school. I am an upland farmer. I have a lowland plot which would be good for rice cultivation, but I don’t have money to clear it. My family is poor. In April my husband and I went to work at the Chinese orange farm for one and a half months and we earnt a little more than two million LAK. We used it to buy rice and we paid back some of our loan. We have suffered from rice insufficiency since June 2020, so the project’s support is very timely. We received 80 kg of sticky rice. The project also supported us with the construction of latrines and the provision of housing materials and now some hygiene items. I would like to thank the project for supporting our village and our family in particular. I hope to be able to borrow some capital from the Village Credit Scheme in the future so that I can develop my small land into a lowland paddy area. This will allow us to support our daughter to continue with her secondary education.
The Local Development Programme for Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane Province, LAO/030, is co-funded by the Government of Laos and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and is implemented by the Ministry of Planning and Investment and LuxDev, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency.
↑ To the top