By Meuangkham Noradeth
December 8, 2012
Officials nationwide are working continually to develop their communities. Xebangfay district is playing its part to realise the government’s aim of improving the quality of life nationwide so that Laos can graduate from the UN’s list of least developed countries by 2020.
Recently, the district declared Thamlay, Koktong, Som, Thahat, Thakhor, Kaengpae and Sorkbor to be cultural villages, which brings Khammuan province’s total number of such communities to 182.
The villages extend over a total area of 320 square kilometres and are home to 695 families of 3,327 people, who mostly depend on farming and animal husbandry for their livelihoods.
Governor of Xebangfay district Mr Bounsy Phommaxay said ensuring there is sufficient agricultural land plays an important role in providing villagers with enough rice for consumption and sale.
The villagers produce a variety of crops for sale and consumption, with particular success in the commercial cultivation of rice, corn, cassava, beans, rubber and several types of vegetables. District officials are also encouraging villagers to raise pigs, cattle and poultry.
Xebangfay officials have been trying to boost crop yields, as commercial cultivation of primary products provides one of the main roads out of poverty.
Mr Bounsy said villagers in his district are poor for various reasons, including a lack of suitable housing or adequate land to farm, or because they are old and have no one to care for them. District officials are looking at ways they can help these people out of poverty.
Villagers have been engaged in agricultural production for hundreds of years, so encouraging more efficiency is an important key to improving their living standards and moving them out of poverty.
Locals are growing a variety of different crops including rice, numerous vegetables and fruit trees, and the assistance of agricultural technicians to help them improve farming methods will help boost their crop yields and ensure surplus production.
Xebangfay is one of the 72 districts classified as poor, and 116 of its 4,600 families remain in poverty. These families mostly live in remote villages which have poor infrastructure and bad roads, making access difficult in the rainy season. More assistance from the government and other donors is essential to improve villagers’ living standards.
Average annual per capita income in the district is now just over 7.1 million kip. Provincial officials are in the process of merging two neighbouring villages into one community to ease development efforts and cut spending on infrastructure.
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.