Huaphan battles its way to poverty alleviation

December 12, 2010

Breeding pigs for sale helps to boost incomes in rural areas.

Although it has been a tough call to improve living standards in remote areas, officials are winning the battle.

Slowly but surely the number of poor families in Huaphan’s Viengxay district has fallen, with 37 percent of the total population listed as impoverished in 2009, but only 31.39 percent classified as poor this year.

Viengxay is one of five districts in the province to be registered on the government’s list of the 47 poorest districts nationwide. This means officials have to work extra hard to develop communities and improve living standards.

District officials have their sights set on basic poverty alleviation by 2015.

To this end, they are encouraging villagers to grow more crops and raise more animals, since these methods are viewed as the most helpful towards alleviating poverty.

It seems officials’ efforts have paid off, and living conditions have improved year by year since the government set 2020 as the target for taking Laos off the UN’s list of least developed countries, district Deputy Governor Mr Khamhom Mixay said this week.

“We are helping villagers, especially poor families, to work in animal husbandry, with a focus on pigs, poultry and fish. We’re also encouraging them to grow a variety of crops for sale,” he said.

There aren’t enough pigs to supply everyone in the district, so villagers are being encouraged to rear more pigs, as this is an easy way to earn money.

This project has been so successful that officials are hopeful there will soon be a surplus of pigs that can be sold in neighbouring districts.

“We’re also focusing on improving basic infrastructure, especially roads, irrigation, schools and dispensaries, because these facilities provide people with added convenience and advance their overall well-being,” Mr Khamhoun added.

The district has received support from many sectors to help with poverty eradication activities, including the government’s Poverty Reduc-tion Fund.

Projects backed by the fund began in the district in 2004; since then assistance has been provided to all 107 villages in the community.

The fund has helped by building roads to link villages around the district, and has been an important part of infrastructure development.

Now all the villages in Viengxay district are linked by roads, which makes it easer for locals to transport their crops to markets.

Since the district began receiving assistance from the fund, living standards have dramatically improved and villagers compete with each other to produce crops and animals for sale.

Officials hope these initiatives will bring a brighter future for all local residents.

The average annual income in Viengxay district is now about 2.6 million kip per person.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of provincial officials, the number of poor people in Huaphan province has fallen from 48 percent in 2005 to 43 percent in 2009.

But it will be difficult for the province to reach basic poverty alleviation targets set for 2015 if the government and international organisations do not offer further support.

Infrastructure development is a priority for the province, in order to link all the districts together to facilitate mobility, and improve access to markets, employment and education.

At present, 27 of the total 739 villages in the province have no road access.

As most people in the province are farmers, it is believed that improving agricultural practices and teaching people new farming methods will further reduce the number of poor families.

Provincial officials are encouraging villagers to grow more rice, along with maize, soybeans and other commercial crops.


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