In remote, rural provinces in Laos, communities are enjoying improved health and nutrition, better access to quality education and more secure livelihoods.
With support from the Australian government’s Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), Tearfund Australia’s partners World Renew and World Concern in Laos have been working for a number of years with some of the most disadvantaged people in villages in Phongsaly, Luang Prabang and Champasak provinces. The result: communities that are empowered to take greater ownership of their development and overcome some of the obstacles they’ve previously faced.
Nga Nguyen, from Tearfund Australia’s International Program Team, recently visited the region and was encouraged by what she saw and heard.
“These projects have had great outcomes for these communities,” she said. “People’s health is better thanks to improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and better maternal and child health and nutrition. Sustainable rural livelihoods are contributing to economic recovery, and communities are enjoying greater stability through food security and quality education for children and youth.”
Working closely with farmers, World Renew in Laos has provided training which is resulting in positive changes. More farmers are immunising their animals, building coops and pens, cleaning the pens regularly and planting improved grasses and forages which can be used as animal feed. Goat raising has increased in popularity and moved from being simply a source of food for the family, to showing potential for income generation.
World Renew continues to work closely with villagers and government counterparts through participatory land use planning discussions, encouraging planting of fruit trees and legumes, agroforestry, and intercropping, all of which aim to protect against soil erosion and improve soil quality, while also diversifying people’s diets.
In one village in Phongsaly, villagers used to walk for 40 minutes each way to collect their daily water. Now, an 18,000-litre water tank connects to five water taps spread throughout the village, giving villagers ready access to safe, clean water. Community members themselves were an integral part of the decision-making and construction processes for the new tank, contributing gravel and labour. While these villagers, like many rural communities, still face challenges, this new water tank is a symbol of new hope and life.
Before Tearfund Australia’s partner World Renew in Laos started working in another Phongsaly village in 2019, only three households had latrines. Now, all 35 households in the village have one. Concrete changes like this mean improved sanitation and better family health. Alongside water flush latrines, which most village households are now familiar with using, dry pit latrines have been built for some families. Dry pit latrines are practical because they do not require water, are cheap and easy to build, do not smell and the structure can be moved to a new location when the pit gets full. This has led to more villagers building and using latrines, and lower spending for the project and villagers.
In one village in the Champasak province, the poorest households have been supported with household latrines and ceramic water purifiers for improved sanitation and safe drinking water. One of those households (pictured) has no land for farming, surviving on meagre earnings from odd jobs. Our partner World Concern’s support through improved water and sanitation has meant a lot to them.
These projects have had great outcomes for these communities. People’s health is better thanks to improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and better maternal and child health and nutrition.
In rural Laos, Tearfund's partners are helping farmers to overcome cycles of poverty that have held the community back for generations.