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LAO/030
Programme de développement local pour les provinces de Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane et Vientiane

Information

Pays
Laos
Bureau régional de LuxDev
Bureau Régional De Vientiane

Secteur
Développement local
PIC 4
2016 - 2020

Période d'exécution
Mai 2017 - Mai 2022
Durée totale
60 mois

Budget total
30 000 000 EUR
Répartition des contributions
  • Gouvernement luxembourgeois
    30 000 000 EUR

Videos

  • LAOS - Village Credit Scheme helps improve lives of the poorest of the poor.

    "Life has been tough since my husband become a disabled person. A few years ago, I wanted to start a household business but no one would give me money beause I had no guaranty for the loan. Then, fortunately I received a first loan of 500,000 kip from the village credit scheme which enabled me to raised some pigs and sell them out for a  good price. I have now borrowed 3,000,000 kip from the village credit scheme to grow my pig raising business. So, thanks to the credit scheme, if things go according to plan, I hope I could earn more income to support my whole family through the next batch of pig selling."

    Nad Vongprya, a member group of village credit scheme, Bolikhan district, Bolikhamxay province.

  • A small loan can lift a poor out of poverty. The story of Bounthavy Daungphachanh, rice farmer.

    A small loan can lift a poor rice farmer out of poverty. The story of Bounthavy Daungphachanh, rice farmer. Local Development Programme for Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane Province, LAO/030.

Évaluation intermédiaire

Le Laos a connu un progrès macro-économique rapide au cours de la dernière décennie, avec une croissance annuelle moyenne du PIB de 7,8 %. Néanmoins, le pays est toujours considéré comme un pays moins développé, classé 138ème sur 188 pays dans l'Indice de développement humain des Nations Unies et 132ème en termes de PIB par habitant. L’inégalité a également augmenté, notamment l’écart grandissant entre les zones urbaines et les zones rurales, en particulier dans les zones isolées des hautes terres, en grande partie peuplées par des minorités ethniques. Les communautés des hautes terres ont généralement des indicateurs de revenus, d'éducation, de santé, de nutrition et autres indicateurs sociaux inférieurs à ceux des communautés urbaines et des basses terres. Cela est en partie lié à l'isolement physique, à l'accès difficile et au faible potentiel agricole, mais aussi à la concurrence des ressources, à la dégradation de l'environnement et à la faiblesse des services publics. La plupart des villages des hautes terres dépendent encore des systèmes traditionnels d’utilisation des terres, qui sont de plus en plus difficiles à maintenir en raison de la concurrence et de la réglementation concernant l’utilisation des ressources naturelles. Malgré l'amélioration de l'accès aux routes, à l'électricité et aux services publics, de nombreuses communautés ont eu des difficultés à s’intégrer dans une économie plus moderne, à passer à des pratiques d'utilisation des terres plus modern et à avoir accès aux possibilités d'emploi. Les villages de montagne sont donc souvent dans une situation économique, sociale et environnementale précaire. Les politiques et plans gouvernementaux récents ont souligné la nécessité de lutter efficacement contre la pauvreté et les problèmes connexes dans ces zones défavorisées.

Le « Programme de développement local pour les provinces de Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane et Vientiane » soutient la stratégie de réduction de la pauvreté du gouvernement pour le développement rural des hautes terres. Il se concentre sur les 14 districts les plus pauvres de quatre provinces, en particulier sur 230 villages cible de 150 000 habitants, dont 76 % sont des minorités ethniques.

Le projet soutient le développement communautaire pratique combiné au renforcement de la gouvernance pour la réduction de la pauvreté. Cette approche à deux niveaux signifie que les systèmes gouvernementaux peuvent être informés et améliorés grâce à des priorités axées sur la demande, des données de terrain et des pratiques réelles, tandis que le travail de développement pratique peut bénéficier d’une meilleure application des politiques, programmes, réglementations et services publics.

La majeure partie du budget de 23 millions d'euros du gouvernement du Luxembourg soutient le développement communautaire et l'accès aux infrastructures dans les 230 villages cible. Le développement communautaire repose sur des plans de développement villageois participatifs et sur des fonds en moyenne de 35 000 EUR par village, gérés et utilisés démocratiquement par la communauté pour des activités économiques, sociales et environnementales. Celles-ci peuvent inclure des investissements communautaires dans, par exemple, l'assainissement, la modernisation des écoles, la gestion des terres, la vulgarisation agricole, la formation, les programmes de crédit et un soutien spécial aux ménages démunis. En outre, des fonds sont disponibles pour le développement des infrastructures, principalement des installations éducatives et des systèmes améliorés d’approvisionnement en eau, identifiés et construits pour atteindre les objectifs de réduction de la pauvreté du gouvernement laotien en matière d’accès à l’éducation et à l’eau potable.

Le renforcement de la gouvernance est axé sur l’amélioration des systèmes et des capacités du personnel gouvernemental en vue d’une réduction plus efficace de la pauvreté. Cela comprend l'amélioration de la planification, du suivi, de l'évaluation, de la coordination des donateurs, de la gestion des investissements et des systèmes d'information. Sur la base des activités de développement sélectionnées dans les villages cible, la composante gouvernance est également en mesure de renforcer l’utilisation des politiques sectorielles et des interventions techniques pour une prestation de services efficace. Le projet soutient et engage également un dialogue politique en participant à des groupes de travail sectoriels et à d’autres réseaux, en gérant les connaissances et en organisant une conférence annuelle sur le développement rural.

Le projet est exécuté conjointement par le ministère du Plan et de l'investissement et par Lux-Development, la branche bilatérale de la Coopération au développement luxembourgeoise. Les départements provinciaux de planification et d'investissement et les bureaux régionaux de planification coordonnent la mise en œuvre sur le terrain. Pour le soutien technique, les départements sectoriels concernés sont engagés, en particulier dans l’agriculture, l’éducation, la santé et les travaux publics. Les comités de développement villageois dans les 230 villages sont chargés de la coordination au niveau communautaire et de la gestion des fonds de développement villageois.

Le projet est très vaste en termes d'interventions, de partenaires et de portée géographique. Il a également fait preuve de souplesse dans le choix des activités afin de mieux répondre aux besoins et aux opportunités émanant du terrain et des parties prenantes. Pour faire face à cette complexité, le projet est guidé par quatre principes généraux.

Priorité à la pauvreté : Pour que le projet contribue à la réduction de la pauvreté, les villages cible sont sélectionnés parmi les villages les plus pauvres et les plus défavorisés des quatre provinces cible. Le projet soutient les activités en faveur des pauvres qui ont le plus de chances d’avoir un impact positif. Cela se fait par le biais d'analyses de la pauvreté dans les villages, de la sélection participative des activités et de l'utilisation des indicateurs et cibles de pauvreté du gouvernement pour la hiérarchisation des investissements dans les infrastructures. Le succès est mesuré à l’aide d’indicateurs et de cibles de pauvreté, y compris des cibles définies par les communautés. L'objectif est d'utiliser 70 % des fonds du projet pour des investissements réels dans les villages cible, ce qui est essentiel pour atteindre l'objectif d’amener la plupart des villages cible au-dessus du seuil de pauvreté d'ici 2021.

Alignement : Pour assurer l'appropriation, l'efficacité et le renforcement des capacités, le projet utilise les systèmes nationaux laotiens pour mener à bien les travaux. Cela signifie que les activités sont gérées par les agences gouvernementales conformément à leurs mandats habituels - en utilisant les systèmes gouvernementaux pour la planification, la gestion, les achats et les rapports. Les plans sont liés aux systèmes nationaux de planification, de suivi et d’évaluation. Pour s'assurer que l'alignement est réalisé dans la pratique et que les partenaires peuvent assumer pleinement la responsabilité et le mérite du travail, environ 80 % du budget est acheminé par l'intermédiaire de partenaires gouvernementaux aux niveaux villageois, local et national.

Intégration : Les activités de développement sont déterminées par les besoins et les opportunités des villages en matière de réduction de la pauvreté. Une fois ces besoins identifiés, le projet est en mesure de faire participer les partenaires gouvernementaux concernés, les prestataires de services privés et les organisations de la société civile aux travaux pratiques. Le projet soutient également la politique de décentralisation du gouvernement laotien en engageant les parties prenantes au niveau du village, du district, de la province et du pays en fonction de leur rôle. Cette intégration fonctionnelle et hiérarchique est assurée par une planification participative du développement villageois réalisée par les communautés avec l’appui des départements de planification locaux, qui définissent les activités, les budgets et les parties prenantes impliquées. Ces plans sont incorporés dans les plans régionaux et provinciaux pour la coordination et la surveillance.

Renforcement des capacités : Les gouvernements du Laos et du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg reconnaissent qu'il existe des lacunes dans la capacité du secteur public et des communautés cible à mener à bien le projet. La mise en œuvre du projet est donc étroitement liée au renforcement des capacités du personnel gouvernemental et des membres de la communauté, ainsi qu'au renforcement organisationnel et institutionnel, notamment en ce qui concerne l'application pratique des systèmes gouvernementaux. Des plans structurés de développement des capacités sont élaborés pour toutes les interventions majeures du projet et sont appuyés par la formation, l’encadrement, l’échange d’expériences, les visites d’étude dans les pays et l’assistance technique. Afin d’assurer une responsabilisation, une transparence et un reporting suffisants, l'équipe de projet de Lux-Development exécute certaines fonctions techniques, administratives et financières, ainsi que des contrôles de conformité, mais dans le but de supprimer progressivement ce rôle au fur et à mesure que la capacité locale augmente.

Les objectifs et les modalités du projet sont ambitieux, mais nous avons des raisons de croire que nous pouvons y parvenir. De 2010 à 2016, le Programme de coopération entre le Laos et le Grand-Duché de Luxembourg a mené un projet similaire dans la province de Bolikhamxay. Le projet de 7,6 millions d’euros s’est concentré sur 60 villages pauvres des hautes terres se trouvant dans les hautes terres les plus reculées, où la plupart des personnes vivaient, au début du projet, avec moins de 0,7 USD par jour. Au bout de six ans, les réalisations pratiques comprenaient 396 projets communautaires menés dans le cadre de fonds de développement villageois; 46 programmes de crédit appartenant à la communauté; 78 écoles, systèmes d'approvisionnement en eau et autres constructions; ainsi que des campagnes de formation et de sensibilisation dans 90 villages. En outre, environ 100 activités de renforcement de la gouvernance ont été soutenues dans toute la province. Grâce à ce soutien et à d’autres développements socio-économiques, le nombre de villages cible officiellement classés comme pauvres est passé de 60, en 2010, à seulement 3 villages en 2016. L’un des facteurs clés de ce succès est le fait que près des trois quarts du budget ont été consacrés au développement pratique du village. Outre les résultats tangibles en matière de développement, le projet a aidé à mettre en place des moyens pratiques de démocratie locale, de participation et d’autonomisation, ce qui est essentiel pour le développement durable futur des villages.

Dernières nouvelles

  • LAOS - Responding to COVID-19 in rural areas

    Publié le 25 Août 2020    Par Peter Kurt Hansen   EN

    The Government of Luxembourg has granted 1 million EUR to support people in disadvantaged villages in Laos to cope with the economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. The support is channelled through the Local Development Programme – LAO/030, which is working with 150 000 people in 229 poor target villages in the four provinces of Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane.

    Household representatives awaiting the start of the distribution of rice, and transfer of cash to destitute households, © LuxDev

    While Laos has so far been spared from serious health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 22 known cases and no deaths, the economic impact has been devastating to an already vulnerable economy. The economic fallouts have, as usual, hit the poorest people disproportionally hard. This is the case in the remote upland areas where most of the population lives on less than a US Dollar a day, eked out from marginal farming and supplemented by occasional wage work, remittances from migrant working family members, and small-scale trading. These income sources have diminished and left tens of thousands of people in peril following the lockdowns, the closing of international borders, and the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic.

    One lady from a destitute household receiving an envelope with 40 EUR in cash. In addition, the family received 60 kg of rice to help bridge the hunger period up to the next harvest 3 month later, © LuxDev

    These problems are painfully evident in the LAO/030 target villages, having been selected in the first place for their high poverty rates and vulnerability. Hence, poverty, remoteness, difficult road access, cultural and language barriers, and generally low education levels make the communities ill equipped to cope with the potential spread of the coronavirus and its economic impact. Furthermore, most villages witnessed disastrously low rice yields in 2019 because of adverse weather conditions. In normal years, most people would cope with food insecurity through off-farm work in Laos or even in Thailand. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has undermined such opportunities, while the regular trading in agricultural, handcraft and non-timber forest products have either stopped or seen increased transportation costs that undermines the economic return for farmers. The economic impact of the pandemic means that many people are facing hunger and malnutrition, which will only increase the vulnerability of the population in case of a COVID-19 outbreak.

    Rice is transferred from import containers to small truck more likely to reach the village on the muddy monsoon roads, © LuxDev

    Rice sacks are stacked in the community school ready for distribution to most food insecure families, © LuxDev

    To help alleviate these problems in the LAO/030 target villages, in June 2020 the Government of Luxembourg decided to provide a 1 million EUR additional grant. The objective of the response is to mitigate infection rates, mortalities, and food shortages in the 229 target villages. To ensure the transparency and community ownership to the COVID-19 response, the funds are channelled through the Village Development Fund mechanism established by LAO/030 Project since 2017. This means that the village, district and provincial authorities are cooperating on the need identification, procurement, and implementation through already established mechanisms based on participatory principles.

    Staff from the provincial Planning and Investment Department confirm villagers’ identity and entitlements, © LuxDev

    Village, government and project representatives keep track on the distribution to ensure compliance with the community’s need assessment, © LuxDev

    Various relevant community-led health and food security interventions were identified, which can potentially be supported depending on the local needs, including:

    Cash transfer to destitute households for immediate relief;

    1. Food distribution to households facing severe food shortage and lacking the means to buy food until the next harvest;
    2. Distribution of soap, disinfectants and backpack sprayers for disinfection of houses;
    3. Materials for isolating sick or suspected sick people in schools or community halls, such as bedding, nails, plastic sheeting, individual water containers, mosquito netting;
    4. Water storage containers and water purification where the regular drinking water supply is running low;
    5. Facemasks and gloves for people taking care of sick or isolated people;
    6. Emergency funds for hospitalization, transport, and food during hospitalization in case of referral of sick people to health facilities; and
    7. Awareness raising and Information material on COVID-19 prevention and control.

    Rice grains

    According to the community priorities, most of the funds are used for food supplies to help the most vulnerable families cope with food shortages exacerbated by the economic fallouts of the pandemic. In comparison, about one quarter of the funds are allocated for hygiene purposes and the prevention of other diseases to help the villages prevent and control a potential COVID outbreak.

    Chomsee Community school, built in 2019 with support of LAO/030 and the site of the food and cash distribution to the most vulnerable families of the village, © LuxDev

    Community leaders from each of the villages have identified the families most in need of support. This helps ensure that the support goes to the families most in need. They are grouped into destitute, severely food deficient, and food vulnerable households, and are accordingly supported to different extents. On average across the 229 target villages, an estimated 25 % of the population will receive some level of food support, while the 1-2 % destitute families will in addition receive a cash transfer of about 40 EUR for imminent needs. For the general population, the support focuses on ensuring that the communities have access to hygiene products and knowledge on how prevent the spread of the coronavirus in the families, schools, public offices and health centres.

    Aerial photo of Chomsee Village in Bokeo Province. To the right, the new Luxembourg funded school where the rice and cash transfer was organised in August 2020, © LuxDev

    The COVID-19 situation and the response by the LAO/030 Project, local authorities, and the communities, have increased the awareness of the need for better disaster preparedness, whether linked to pandemics, natural disasters, or long-term climate impacts. As such, it is likely that disaster preparedness will be an important consideration for future support to local and national development planning.

  • LAOS - A small loan can lift a poor rice farmer out of povertyA story of Bounthavy Daungphachanh

    Publié le 28 Novembre 2019    Par Mone SYSAVATH   EN

    Being a rice farmer, I used to be very poor and I did not have enough food for myself and my family for the year. With little money, no labour and no knowledge on how to improve the soil and the variety of rice, we had very low harvests. So I decided to apply for a loan from the village credit scheme and my first request for a 3,000,000-kip loan was accepted. I used that money to improve the yields by hiring more workers to plant and look after my rice fields, by getting a tractor and by buying more fertiliser to use in my rice fields. Thanks to the credit scheme, I am now able to grow rice seasonally and have good harvests. Now I have enough to eat and a better livelihood.

     

    To find out more about Bounthavy’s story, watch this video:

    Slide12.jpg

    The village credit scheme, or village bank, is part of LAO/030 Local Development Programme’s efforts to help lift the poor out of extreme poverty and to bring them over the national poverty line. The Programme works in 14 of some of the poorest districts of Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane provinces, encompassing 229 villages and counting together 150 000 people, 70% of whom come from various ethnic groups.

     

     

  • LAOS - Village Credit Scheme helps improve lives of the poorest of the poor. A story of Naed Vongprya

    Publié le 18 Septembre 2019    Par Mone SYSAVATH   EN

    Life has been tough since my husband become a disabled person. A few years ago, I wanted to start a household business but no one would give me money beause I had no guaranty for the loan. Then, fortunately I received a first loan of 500,000 kip from the village credit scheme which enabled me to raised some pigs and sell them out for a  good price. I have now borrowed 3,000,000 kip from the village credit scheme to grow my pig raising business. So, thanks to the credit scheme, if things go according to plan, I hope I could earn more income to support my whole family through the next batch of pig selling.

    Nead_VCS_loan_taker4.pngNad Vongprya, a member group of village credit scheme, Bolikhan district, Bolikhamxay province. © LuxDev 2019

    To find out more about Naed’s story, watch this video:

    Screen_Shot_2019-09-18_at_16.48_.37_1.png

    The Village credit scheme is part of LAO/030 Programme’s effort seeking to help the poor getting out of extreme poverty and bring them over the national poverty line. The Programme works in 14 of the poorest districts of the  Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane provinces and particularly in 229 villages counting together 150 000 inhabitants, 70% of  whom are ethnic groups.

  • LAOS - Luxembourg continues to support poverty reduction in Laos

    Publié le 9 Juillet 2019    Par LAO/030 programme   EN

    The LAO/030 programme supports poverty reduction in disadvantaged upland areas through practical development combined with governance strengthening. The primary beneficiaries are 150,000 people, mostly ethnic minority groups, in 229 villages with high poverty rates. The programme also works with Caritas Luxembourg, who is supporting Provincial Nutrition Committees in Bolikhamxay and Vientiane province to alleviate the high rural malnutrition rates. Collaboration with another Luxembourg NGO, ADA, focuses on improving poor people’s access to financial services.

    20181130_111422.jpg

    The programme focuses on four approaches:

    • community-led development for practical and strategic priorities;
    • governance strengthening in local development and poverty reduction;
    • delegation to all administrative levels and sectors according to their mandates;
    • policy dialogue, knowledge management and networking informed by practical development work.

    Watch more detail of the programme here: https://youtu.be/elvCpVbq4bA

     

     

     

  • LAOS - Luxembourg provides support on nutrition in Bolikhamxay and Vientiane Province

    Publié le 8 Février 2019    Par Mone SYSAVATH   EN

    The Local Development Programme LAO/030 and Caritas Luxembourg join hands in supporting the nutrition sector in the Lao PDR.

    An Executing Agreement (EA) on Nutrition convergence support in LAO/030 target provinces between LuxDev, Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency and Caritas was signed on 8th February 2019 at the Embassy of Luxembourg in Vientiane Lao PDR.

    The EA was jointly signed by the Managing Director of LuxDev, Mr Gaston Schwartz and the President of Caritas Luxembourg, Mrs Marie-Joseé Jacobs. The signing ceremony was attended by Mr Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires of the Luxembourg Embassy in Vientiane, and by senior Lao officials from the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Health.

    Signing_Ceremony.jpg

    This joint support is part of an ongoing development effort of the Luxembourg Aid and Development’s contribution to poverty reduction in Laos, including malnutrition and hunger.

    The overall objectives of the Nutrition convergence are to:

    • strengthen the coordination among government agencies and civil society in nutrition; 
    • build capacity of local authorities and Lao civil society; and 
    • assist in awareness raising of nutrition at community level in the programme target areas in the two provinces.

    The total budget for this project is 312,740 EUR. It will run from February 2019 to December 2020.

    Group_photos_Caritas_EA_signing_.jpg

    This collaboration focusses on improving nutrition through better coordination of the Lao Government’s multisectoral nutrition convergence approach. Caritas will support the provincial nutrition committees in two of the Lao-Luxembourg target provinces, Bolikhamxay and Vientiane.

    Caritas already has experience with similar work in Xiengkhuang Province, and thereby brings both expertise and credibility to the table. Caritas will also be able to facilitate the inclusion of other NGOs and non-profit associations in the network coordinated by the provincial health departments.

    At the same time, the Local Development and the Health Programmes are funding numerous nutrition-related activities in the two provinces, which will benefit from the enhanced coordination by the provincial authorities. These investments will also give leverage to the joint work towards real impact on nutrition in poor communities supported by Luxembourg Aid and Development.

     

     

     

     

     

  • LAOS - 7 reasons why the Local Development Programme LAO/030 uses village development funds to overcome poverty

    Publié le 17 Décembre 2018    Par Mone SYSAVATH   EN

    In late November 2018, Regional Office in Vientiane Laos, as part of the mid-term evaluation team, visited several villages in Bokeo province (north of Laos) where the programme LAO/030 is working with 52 poor and multi-ethnic villages to improve better livelihood through Village Development Fund approach.

    On the way to the target villages, we spoke to Mr Sisouk Khounvithong who is the Provincial Programme Coordinator about the village development funds and its planning in general.

    Question: Why are village development funds supported by LAO/030 programme important in improving people’s live in the target villages?

    Answer: In my view, they are, in many ways because:

    1. Each community decides to use the fund based on their real need in a transparent and democratic way; 2. Each community decides, in consensus, to use the fund to help the poorest of the poor in their villages; 3. Each community selects representatives themselves who they can trust and handle the funds; 4. The fund directly meets community needs based on village development potential (geographically and local knowledge); 5. Village planning and its identified activities come from voices of all group (adult men, women and the poor) of people in each community; 6. The village development fund benefits both poorest of the poor households and community as a whole. So, no one is left behind;

    7. Each village manages the funds with direct technical support from district authorities.

    VDFC_present_workplan_photo_1.jpgVillage Development Fund Committee member explains the village activities implementation plan to the Mid Term Evaluation Team at Khae village, Parktha District, Bokeo province

    activities_vote_photo_2.jpg

    vote_for_activities_photo_3.jpg

    Villagers vote for their Village Development Fund Committee and its activities, Piengthueng village, Pha Oudom District

    VDFC_selection_photo_5.jpg

    VDF_prioritization_photo_4.jpg

    Village Development Fund Committee selection result and village activities priorities and ranking, Piengthueng village, Pha Oudom District, Bokeo

    Bee_keeping_at_Tor_Lae_village_Bokeo_province_photo_7.jpgMost of the villagers in Tor Lae, Bokeo province are raising local bees as part of their income generating activity from generation to generation.

    MTE_team_LAO_030_and_DPO_Mueang_photo_10.jpgMr Sisouk Khounvithong, on the front row second right, is the Provincial Programme Coordinator and the Deputy Director General of Provincial Planning and Investment Department of Bokeo.

  • Laos – “Nothing ever becomes real until it is experienced”High-level field visit within the scope of LAO/030 Local Development Programme in Laos

    Publié le 10 Avril 2017    Par Peter Kurt Hansen   EN

    The Lao Luxembourg Cooperation Programme will launch the “Local Development Programme for Bokeo, Bolikhamxay, Khammouane and Vientiane Provinces – LAO/030” in May 2017. This 23 million EUR programme will support poverty reduction in more than 200 villages in the poorest districts of the four target provinces. The project is based on the highly successful Bolikhamxay Livelihood Improvement and Governance Project - LAO/021 Project carried out in 2010-16, which contributed substantially to improving living standards in 60 target villages through innovative poverty reduction strategies.

    To help the new programme get off to a good start and to create a common understanding of the planned principles and modalities, the Bolikhamxay provincial authorities arranged a four-day field visit to the LAO/021 project area, including discussions with people in eight of the former target villages.

    The participants included representatives from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the four provincial planning departments of LAO/030, staff from three districts visited, and project staff. Notably, the Director General of MPI’s Planning Department, Madame Phonevanh Outhavong, and the Director-General of LuxDev, Mr Gaston Schwartz, participated in the visit, along with the LuxDev Regional Representative, Mr Olivier Hecquet.

    At a practical level, the study tour gave an opportunity to observe some of the tangible results of the LAO/021 project, including village development funds, credit schemes, district micro-finance institutions, and rural infrastructure such as schools, water supply schemes, and bridges. This established a framework for discussions on the innovative principles for decentralisation, participation and empowerment at province, district, and village levels. Through these mechanisms, the LAO/021 project delegated 56% of its budget to Lao implementing partners, used Lao government structures throughout the project and spent 72% of the funds on village-level interventions with a direct poverty focus. Moreover, the project promoted capacity development through learning-by-doing, supported by targeted training, coaching and technical assistance. These modalities will be adopted and further developed in the new LAO/030 programme.

    While decentralisation, participation and local democracy are firmly embedded in the Lao government’s policies, their actual application requires further advocacy and practical examples to ensure that the implementing government agencies have full confidence and understanding of their use. In this regard, the field visit offered an excellent opportunity for discussion among the group of  composed of both strategic decision makers and practical implementers. The presence of the two Director-Generals gave further weight to the importance of building LAO/030 on shared values and principles, which is essential for executing a highly decentralised and multi-sectorial programme.

    The LAO/030 programme will, over the coming 5-6 months, develop action plans to align the support with the local development plans of the four target provinces. Guidelines and initial capacity development will also be carried out in order for practical activities to commence in earnest at the start of the dry season in September, when the remote target villages are accessible and farmers have completed their busy cropping season.