By Meuangkham Noradeth
April 29, 2012
The National Leading Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication (NLCRDPE) and government agencies nationwide are joining forces to raise Laos out of poverty and leave the list of least developed countries.
The committee’s goal is to reduce the poverty rate to below 22 percent this year and to less than 10 percent of the population by 2015.
The number of poor families nationwide is decreasing year by year, and officials around the country are hoping Laos will be able to alleviate basic poverty alleviation by 2015, in line with the Millennium Development Goals.
The number of families living in poverty fell from 20.4 percent in 2002-2003 to 18.80 percent in 2011, according to a survey conducted by the NLCRDPE.
Poverty eradication efforts include setting up village development groups, and the development of large villages into small towns in rural areas.
Infrastructure improvement in rural areas, including irrigation, roads and markets, has improved agricultural production, transportation and crop sales for local people.
In 2011-2012, the committee is continuing village development, covering more than 15 percent of villages nationwide.
Development will include the construction of year-round access roads, and expansion of telecommunications and electricity.
The Poverty Reduction Fund also plays an important role in helping the NLCRDPE and the government to meet rural development and poverty eradication targets.
The education sector is important for human resources development and has expanded in rural areas, with primary schools now existing in 98.35 percent of villages.
Government officials in each province are striving hard to reach poverty alleviation targets. In Oudomxay province, they are working with assistance from the central government to improve local living standards.
Oudomxay officials are facing challenges in meeting poverty alleviation targets and have their work cut to improve the living standards of the 25,410 families classified as poor in the province.
This number remains high because the province is mountainous and it is difficult to access remote villages. Infrastructure development is an important priority for provincial officials in their efforts to improve living conditions.
Improving transportation routes and encouraging farming families to boost crop yields is also important to raise living standards, according to a report from the province.
The province has 471 villages that are home to 52,305 families, with 332 villages classified as poor.
Provincial officials are merging two neighbouring villages to form one community, which makes it easier to manage and control development efforts.
The province has seven districts. Five of these – Namor, Nga, Baeng, Houn and Pakbaeng – are on the list of the poorest districts in the province so officials are trying to develop infrastructure in these areas, including road construction and electricity and water connections.
The construction of roads is a top priority to ensure farmers in remote areas can access markets to sell their crops and livestock and boost their income levels. Of the 473 villages in the province, 397 currently have access to good roads.
Provincial officials are encouraging villagers to plant crops including soybeans, beans, sesame, cucumber, watermelon, corn and other commercial crops. They are also helping farmers to rear poultry, pigs and cattle.
Farmers are giving up slash and burn agriculture and adopting permanent farming places, while improving their cultivation techniques.
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.