By Meuangkham Noradeth
April 21, 2012
Districts nationwide are fighting to alleviate basic poverty by 2015, and officials are working hard to reach the government’s target, but those in Viengthong district, Huaphan province, are facing many challenges.
The government has set a target for all districts in the country to be declared free of basic poverty in the next three years, as part of efforts to remove Laos from the UN’s list of least developed countries by 2020.
Officials in Viengthong district have been working to develop their community for many years and hope that one day they too will be able to reach their poverty alleviation targets.
“We want to achieve poverty alleviation, but we don’t know when this will be possible because of the high number of poor households,” Deputy district Governor Mr Khamphay Phommysone said this week.
Viengthong is one of several districts officially classified as poor in Huaphan province. Local officials depend heavily on assistance from the government and international organisations to improve villagers’ living standards and develop the area.
The district has 69 villages that are home to 27,230 people living in 4,254 households, of which 2,282 are below the poverty line, Mr Khamphay said.
“We are focussing on developing infrastructure, crop yields and animal husbandry,” he added.
The Poverty Reduction Fund is helping the district to build new roads in remote villages, and construct schools, medical dispensaries, cable bridges and irrigation systems.
While many villages in the district are accessible by road, 47 of them are impassable during the wet season. This makes it difficult for villagers to improve their living standards and it is hard for district officials to reach families in remote areas and provide them with assistance.
Officials have provided land for villagers so they can farm, and arranged loans so they can invest in farming and animal rearing, including cattle, poultry, pigs and goats.
Officials are also e ncouraging private companies to invest in the commercial cultivation of corn, soybeans and sesa me in an effort to boost employment opportunities for local people and bolster the district’s economy.
The district has 1,179 hectares of rice fields, but the authorities and farmers are finding it difficult to increase this amount because of a lack of adequate water supplies and irrigation systems.
Mr Khamphay said it was essential to build more irrigation systems for farming in Viengthong district, because the vast majority of villagers, especially poor households, are dependent on farming.
Providing them with new techniques to increase the quality and quantity of their crops is essential to improving their income levels and living conditions.
Average annual per capita income in the district is about 2.9 million kip, which it is hoped will increase to 3.9 million kip in 2015.
Mr Khamphay said living conditions in the district continue to improve year by year and many families now have solidly built houses, and vehicles to use for farming and to transport crops for sale.
The number of poor families has fallen thanks to assistance from all sectors concerned, including the Poverty Reduction Fund.
Viengthong district is hoping for more assistance from the government and international organisations to improve basic infrastructure, including road and irrigation construction.
Huaphan province faces many challenges in alleviating poverty. Poverty levels in the province are still high and 22,757 people are still living below the official poverty line.
Assistance from the government and international organisations is essential if the province is to reach poverty alleviation targets by 2015.
Infrastructure development is a priority, to link districts and facilitate the trade of goods and exchange of skills between local people.
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.
Houaphan opens newly installed power grid
April 21, 2012
(KPL) The Electricity du Laos (EDL) in cooperation with the Houanphan authorities and developers last week held a ceremony for opening newly completed Northern Provinces Rural Power Grid Installation project.
The USD 39.6 million project is designed to electrify northern provinces of Houaphan, Xiengkhouang, Luangnamtha, Oudomsay, Phongsaly and Borkeo, according to Director of EDL, Mr. Sisavat Thiravong.
“In 2009, the government approved USD30.4 million for the installation of 115-KV transmission line stretching from Xiengkhouang to Houaphan,” said Mr. Sisavat.
“By the end of 2011, 238 villages in Houaphan have gained an access to electricity,” said Mr. Sisavat.
He said that the Project contributed to the socio-economic development and people access to electricity.
The government has an ambitious plan to have all Laotians gain an access to electricity by 2020. The nationwide power use in the country is 78 per cent.