By Meuangkham Noradeth
November 24, 2012
The number of poor families in Champassak province continues to drop, as provinces nationwide work to improve living standards to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Only 3 percent of Champassak’s 110,000 families are living in poverty, and officials are confident they’ll reach the target of basic poverty alleviation by the 2015 deadline.
“Our province has 644 villages – 223 of which have been declared to be developed villages,” Champassak province Governor Mr Sonexay Siphandone said.
“The economy in our province continues to grow, so there is no question we will reach the basic poverty alleviation target within the next three years.”
The province has designated Pakxe, Pakxong, and Mounlapamok districts as models of development.
There’s burgeoning potential for growing crops for sale, including coffee, rubber, rice, and a variety of vegetables.
The province’s economy has grown 10.6 percent this year, and it’s expected to see an annual increase of 11.1 percent by 2015 – a contributing factor to the governor’s growing confidence of reaching the MDG targets.
The average annual income in the province is more than 11 million kip per capita, and this is expected to rise to more than 15 million kip by 2015.
Mr Sonexay said the majority of people in Champassak work in farming, so any improvements in living standards has a roll on effect, raising the quality and quantity of crops the farmers can produce.
A focus on improving infrastructure, including a revamped airport to ease goods transportation, and a growing tourism network with neighbouring countries is also contributing to the province’s development.
Bachiangchaleunsouk, Pathoumphon, Soukhouma, and Mounlapamok are the four districts still considered poor. Officials are now focussing their efforts on development to eradicate poverty amongst their communities.
Officials in Bachiangchaleunsouk district know they have hard work ahead of them, but they’re confident of improving their population’s livelihoods and escaping basic poverty within the set timeframe.
Bachiangchaleunsouk and Soukhouma are both on the government’s list of the poorest districts nationwide.
In efforts to improve living standards, Bachiangchaleunsouk officials are encouraging villagers to plant a wider variety of crops, including rice, coffee, cardamom, banana, beans, cassava, corn, papaya, and various types of vegetables.
A good sign for the district is that four Vietnamese companies have recently begun investing in rubber plantations there – providing employment opportunities for locals.
Besides this, the district recently received assistance from the Poverty Reduction fund to build schools, artesian water wells, and bore wells.
The district contains 45 villages, which are home to about 9,300 families made up of 50,398 people. Some 522 of these families have been identified as living below the poverty line.
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.