By Meuangkham Noradeth
March 3, 2012
District officials in mountainous Nga district, Oudomxay province, have to work hard to improve local people’s living standards, but they hope to achieve basic poverty alleviation by 2015.
Encouraging agricultural production, animal husbandry and infrastructure improvement are important steps to developing the district and improving living conditions.
“We still have the problem of providing people with permanent work. Out of 63 villages in the district, only 16 are accessible in the rainy season and only 10 villages have electricity. However, we expect that all villages will have electricity by 2015,” said Nga district Governor Mr Thongpiene Yulixay this week.
If they want to reach poverty alleviation targets, district officials know they have to work hard with assistance from the government and relevant sectors.
District officials are targeting 3,430 households, which are classified as poor under government criteria, said Mr Thongpiene.
He added that to reduce poverty it was necessary to increase families’ ability to produce food, with the aim of producing a surplus for sale.
District officials are encouraging more agricultural production and animal husbandry to maximise each family’s potential to improve their living standards.
“We have been sending technicians and officials to help villagers by teaching them new farming techniques to increase the quality and quantity of their crops,” Mr Thongpiene explained.
Villagers plant various crops, including rice, beans and sesame, and officials are encouraging those living in mountainous terrain to grow grass for rearing cattle and goats.
Nga district has an average annual income of more than 3.5 million kip, and in general living standards have improved year after year because of the increasing variety of crops being grown.
Basic infrastructure improvement is also a priority. District officials need assistance from provincial officials to provide paved roads and electricity to as much of the district as possible. Paved roads will make it will easier for people to transport crops for sale at markets.
More funding is required from the government, international organisations and the private sector if provincial officials are to achieve basic poverty alleviation for the 25,410 families in the province classified as poor.
The province is mountainous and it is difficult to access remote villages, so infrastructure development is a top priority.
More roads are needed to ensure farmers can access markets to sell crops and livestock and boost their incomes.
Five of the province’s seven districts – Namor, Nga, Baeng, Houn and Pakbaeng – are on the list of the poorest districts in the country.
Provincial officials are in the process of merging two neighbouring villages into one community to simplify development efforts.
The majority of the people in Oudomxay province are farmers, so instructing farmers on new agricultural techniques and methods will boost production and further reduce the number of poor families.
The province is making an effort to eliminate slash and burn cultivation, and is arranging for permanent farmland for local farmers. The province also provides assistance by teaching improved cultivation and harvesting techniques.
Provincial officials are encouraging villagers to plant more sweetcorn for export to China, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as beans, ginger and sugarcane.
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.