By Meuangkham Noradeth
April 2, 2011
Financial and material assistance is an important factor in developing all remote districts and improving villagers’ living standards nationwide. Champhone district recently received a grant from the government of Japan worth more than 700 million kip for the installation of a clean water supply system, an invaluable contribution to developing the country and ensuring it graduates from the UN’s list of least developed nations by 2020.
The residents of Champhone district suffer from lack of access to clean water, as rivers and reservoirs are scarce in the area, especially during the dry season. This means some people fall ill because they have no choice but to drink unclean water.
An existing well will be enlarged to supply three villages with sufficient clean water for villagers to use in their daily lives.
Deputy Governor of Champhone district Mr Moun Vorathamniam said this week that officials are working hard to develop the community and outside assistance is an important factor in helping the district move closer to declaring the achievement of basic poverty alleviation targets by this year.
“We are trying to boost agricultural production and animal husbandry in the community because they are important tools in changing the living standards of villagers for the better,” he explained.
Sending officials to communities to promote improved farming techniques is an important factor to increasing the quality and quantity of agricultural output, especially since the majority of villagers in the district depend on farming and natural resources to earn a living. Increasing agricultural production is therefore an essential part of efforts to improve villagers’ incomes and living standards.
Residents of the district have worked in agricultural activities for many centuries but their lack of knowledge regarding new techniques and technology means they remain unable to increase the quality and quantity of their crop yields.
Mr Moun said that increasing agricultural production is a way to boost employment and income opportunities for local people in the district.
Local people in Champhone district have had success with commercial cultivation of rice, corn, beans and chilli for sale in local markets.
“We are also encouraging local people to become involved in animal husbandry, including cattle, goats, pigs and poultry for consumption and sale,” he explained.
Farming is the main source of income for the majority of the district’s residents, especially poor families, but local officials still lack adequate funds to support their work to expand agriculture.
District officials had planned to declare the alleviation of basic poverty last year but the target was not reached as some poor families still remain in the community.
Although the district is not on the government’s list of the 47 poorest districts in Laos, assistance from the government, international organisations and other sectors is important to helping the district reach basic poverty alleviation goals by this year.
Champhone district is home to about 19,000 families. At present 100 of those families are living in poverty, but district officials hope that all poverty will be eradicated in the near future.
All 102 villages in the district have access roads open for travel all year round. Electricity is installed in 98 villages. Average annual per capita income in the district increased from more than 4 million kip in 2008 to more than 8 million kip last year.
The Lao government defines poverty as not having enough food, lacking adequate clothing, not having permanent housing and lacking access to health, education and transportation services.