By Meuangkham Noradeth
January 28, 2012
As the government strives to develop every district in the country, Nongbok district in Khammuan province is making strides in the right direction after nine villages have been declared development villages.
After working hard to develop their community and improve living standards, officials in Khoutjap village were rewarded last week when the village was officially declared a development village.
The village was established in 1560 and is home to 140 families of 851 people, who depend on farming and animal husbandry for their livelihood. The community has 273 hectares of rice fields with the capacity to produce 2.5 tonnes per hectare, so villagers grow enough for their consumption and produce a surplus for sale, said Village Head Mr Vilayvanh Phanthakhot.
Farmers have also had success with the commercial cultivation of rice and several types of vegetable. Village officials are also encouraging locals to raise cattle and poultry.
A village development fund has been set up and is also playing a role in growth, and now has 200 members. This form of saving has become popular because it is a simple way of accumulating savings and borrowing money for investment purposes.
The fund now has more than 113 million kip. Last year, 77 members borrowed 100 million kip for investment in farming, animal husbandry and small businesses.
Average annual per capita income in the village is now 1.8 million kip to 120 million kip.
The creation of deve-lopment villages is the method of choice in Nongbok district in the effort to change villagers’ lifestyles for better and help the government to develop Laos and rise above least developed country status by 2020.
Officials hope that by 2013 they will be able to declare all 55 villages in the district as development villages.
District officials are also working to improve animal husbandry and farming, and are encouraging poor families to raise more cattle and pigs for sale in local markets and neighbouring provinces.
Officials are helping families who lack the skills and opportunities to develop themselves. Now villagers are competing with each other to improve their living standards and make farming and animal rearing more productive.
District Deputy Governor Mr Sinthasone Mahakhot said villagers are actively working to better their lives, so it is not difficult for them to move out of poverty.
According to a survey conducted by district officials, only 259 out of 8,451 households are still living below the poverty line, mostly in remote areas.
Now living standards are gradually improving with the creation of development villages. People know how to sell their farm produce so they can earn an income from their crops.
The battle against poverty in Nongbok district focuses on farming, in particular the cultivation of rice and a variety of vegetables, but more funding is needed to improve infrastructure, especially roads and irrigation. Officials are also encouraging farmers to raise cattle, pigs and poultry.
Khammuan provincial officials hope they will be able to reach poverty alleviation targets by 2015, and are now working to improve the living standards of 4,667 families still classified as poor in the province.
Officials are trying to develop all 588 villages in the province; so far 27 have been declared development villages.
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.