Sangthong district set to leave poverty behind

By Somsack Pongkhao
May 21, 2011

Sangthong district of Laos

Vientiane expects to declare Sangthong district’s graduation from the list of the 47 poorest districts in Laos this year, according to the latest poverty assessment report for the capital released on Friday.

Officials from relevant departments and district governors attended a meeting yesterday in Vientiane chaired by Vientiane Mayor Soukanh Mahalath.

Sangthong, one of the capital’s nine districts, comprises 4,882 households, of which only 61 are below the poverty line, the report stated.

Eight of the district’s 37 villages have been declared development villages and 11 more have the potential to follow suit.

Vientiane has a population of more than 743,000 living in 490 villages. Some 44 percent of the capital is classified as urban, with the rest suburban or rural.

The capital has a total 134,714 households, of which only 268 remain poor.

Of the 490 villages in the capital, 214, or 43.6 percent, have become cultural villages, and 250, or 51 percent, have become crime-free and drug-free villages. In addition, 462 communities, or 94 percent, are now health villages, and 144, or 29.38 percent, are development villages.

Mr Soukanh expressed his appreciation for the progress made in poverty reduction and rural development in the capital but urged officials from all sectors to focus on creating villages for development to alleviate poverty.

He also encouraged officials to launch a breakthrough approach to poverty reduction in line with the policy approved at the 9th Party Congress in March this year to boost development in the capital.

Vientiane authorities have set a goal for development villages to account for 70 percent of the capital’s total villages by 2015, with Chanthabouly, Sisattanak and Xaysettha to become development districts.

The goal for 2015 also includes 85 percent being declared cultural villages, 60 percent named development villages, and 100 percent becoming health villages.

Officials need to display more responsibility in working towards these goals and encourage villagers to grow more crops on a commercial basis to meet market demand.

Officials said the mechanism related to the use of funding sources in rural development and poverty reduction needs to be improved to ensure funds are used effectively and efficiently.

One of the most important needs is to teach more people about improved farming methods to ensure they understand the best ways to achieve higher yields.

Vientiane is the political, economic and socio-cultural capital of Laos.

The authorities have set a goal to lift the capital from its least developed status by 2015, five years ahead of the government’s plan to remove Laos from the UN’s list of least developed countries.

In the past five years, GDP growth in the capital has reached 12.1 percent with annual per capita income of US$1,755.

Annual economic growth of 12.6 percent is projected in Vientiane from 2011 to 2015, with per capita income of US$4,400.


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