By Meuangkham Noradeth
May 5, 2012
Officials in districts nationwide are working hard to improve villagers’ living standards and to achieve basic poverty alleviation by 2015, with officials in Pakxe district, Champassak province, reaching their basic targets last year.
As Laos strives to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, the contribution of all people and sectors concerned are the most important factor in developing all communities nationwide and changing villagers’ lives for the better, but now the people of Pakxe have risen above poverty.
A strong will to improve the living conditions of local people and the assistance of officials to solve problems were important in helping the district to reach basic poverty alleviation targets, said district Governor Mr Sythone Keophouvong this week.
He said people grow a wide of variety crops, including rice and numerous vegetables.
The people of Samanxay village make serving trays, cradles, chairs, baskets and other items for sale, to boost their income. The village has been chosen as a model for local people in the community to emulate, in the hope that others will learn how to set up and operate a successful enterprise, he explained.
Mr Sythone said that last year five families in five villages were classified as poor but now officials have been able to solve their problems and move them out of poverty.
Infrastructure development and boosting agricultural productivity has proved essential to improve villagers’ living conditions and helping Pakxe district reach its poverty alleviation aims.
“We have set up village development funds, so people can borrow money to invest in handicraft manufacture and farming, and run other small businesses,” he explained.
Local residents work across a wide range of fields, including as traders, handicraft makers, farmers, government officials, private workers, soldiers and policemen.
District officials have encouraged villagers to set up small businesses, such as handicraft production in Samanxay village, to boost income levels and improve living standards so that the district can achieve its poverty eradication targets, said Mr Sythone.
The district has 42 villages, with a population of about 85,000 in a total of 12,300 families. None of these families is classified as living below the poverty line.
He explained that all villages in the community have year-round road access and electricity supply, which helps people to improve their living standards.
The average annual income in the district is more than 11.3 million kip per capita and this is expected to rise to more than 15 million kip.
All communities in the district are developing year-by-year; last year 10 villages were declared as development villages and five communities were named model cultural villages, Mr Sythone said.
A development village must follow certain criteria. Some 85 percent of households must have been declared so-called development families, the village must be a model of national and peace protection, be crime and drug free, have year-round road access, and villagers must display solidarity and help one another.
A development village must have electricity installed, be a model of health and culture, and practise gender equality.
Mr Sythone said the construction of basic infrastructure has enabled local residents to have greater income opportunities, while roads that are passable all year round will make it easier to transport crops to sale points, and to run other businesses.
In Champassak province, only Bachiangchaleunsouk, Pathoumphon, Soukhouma and Mounlapamok districts are listed as being poor. These communities are now the target of officials as the province works its way towards basic poverty alleviation by 2015.
Champassak officials are working hard to improve the living standards of families classified as poor and infrastructure development is a priority, especially road construction to link all the districts together.
Champassak province is home to 110,324 families in total, of which 10,960 are living in poverty, according to a survey conducted last year by the National Leading Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication.
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.