As 5-year program ends, 29 communities in Laos are well on their way to lasting food security

As 5-year program ends, 29 communities in Laos are well on their way to lasting food security

FRB's Laos - Xieng Khouang program is doing exceptionally well after 5 years of funding. The project has exceeded expectations and is growing quickly! As a result, FRB will phase out funding for this program with confidence that these 29 communities in Northeast Laos are well on their way toward lasting food security. Read on to learn how they're doing it!  

The 29 poor and remote communities which participated in FRB’s Laos-Xieng Khouang program in the country’s northeast are ready to graduate from FRB support. The program, begun in 2009, with a second phase that started in 2011, has met its goal of increasing family incomes through sustainable livelihood development and infrastructure improvements. 

The program’s success is due to the dedication of the World Renew team in Laos PDR and the hardworking participants themselves who took full advantage of the program’s training and support to lift themselves out of poverty and improve their food security. Average household incomes have increased much more than expected: over four times the baseline. The communities have escaped poverty and no longer meet the Laotian government’s criteria for “poor” villages based on access to roads, clean water, and schools. 

Villagers are enjoying a dramatic increase in rice sufficiency because they have successfully put into practice alternative cropping systems to produce enough rice to eat year-round. Most of the communities have also adopted a variety of new practices in animal husbandry, fruit-tree planting, green-manure cover crops to enrich depleted soils, agroforestry, and more. Families have better nutrition and a higher standard of living thanks to kitchen gardens, animal rearing, and high enough yields from improved agriculture practices to be able to sell their excess produce for income.

Volunteer Village Development Committees (VDCs) have facilitated land-use planning and the mapping of land ownership. Overall, the villages have improved their animal production with training on suitable forage cropping systems and forage use and production. Village Veterinary Workers have received and passed along training on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of the most common animal diseases so successfully, in fact, that most farmers are now able to do their own veterinary work. VDCs have also organized, planned and managed community initiatives like road development, children's education, adult literacy, and women in leadership. Over 90% of children are in school, and 100% of adults aged 16-45 have attained literacy at least through the primary-school level. 

All villages have instituted revolving loan funds, which have increased by 30% during the course of the program from interest alone, after subtracting the principal given to create new funds. This robust growth indicates a sustainable system that should continue providing small-scale loans for families in these communities for many years to come. These loans are used for cash crops, animal rearing, and small businesses, and have contributed to the marked rise in incomes since the beginning of the project.

Access to clean water and sanitation facilities has been improved through water supply systems and latrine installation and maintenance. Mothers receive nutrition training, and hygiene and sanitation practices have improved at both the family and village levels. Community health has improved through attention to basic health practices and the presence of Community Health Volunteers. As Phase 2 of this program comes to an end, program staff has been visiting participants to distill their stories and learn how the work had changed their lives. Here is one family’s tale of transformation: 

Before the program came to their village, Mr. Tong, his wife, and their five children were among the poorest families, often lacking food, or even clothing for the children. Mr. Tong was one of the first villagers to get involved in the “Piglets for the Poor” project, initiated as a creative way to involve the poorest of the poor in the development process. Mr. Tong received two pigs, and promised to repay the program within a specified period of time by passing on two pigs to another poor family identified by the VDC. With income from the sale of piglets from several litters, the family made improvements to their living conditions. Over time they were able to purchase two cows, corn seeds, a motorbike, and a solar light. Mr. Tong was deeply honored and happy to be able to give two pigs to another family to begin a similar process. He and his wife participated in many trainings and development activities and applied what they learned. Mr. Tong has become a very active member of his community, including taking on responsibilities as the village veterinarian. Recently the village leadership asked him to become the Village Health Worker. This past year he received an award for being the most active health volunteer in the area. 

FRB is grateful to have witnessed the transformation of this district through the strong and committed partnership of World Renew and the highly motivated communities of Xieng Khouang. 

Laos Xieng Khouang encompasses 29 communities, 1408 households, and 9390 individuals. 

07/10/2014 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment