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Projects Help to Put Food on the Table in Poorest Districts

Poverty, people of the Akha Djepia ethnic group, simple huts on the hillside, village Ban Chakhamdaeng, near the Nam Lan Conservation Area, Boun Tai district, Phongsali province, Phongsaly, Laos, Southeast Asia, Asia

The Southern Laos Food and Nutrition Security and Market Linkages Programme (FNML) based in Attapeu province and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is working to reduce extreme poverty and hunger in Laos.The project is working in nine northern districts of two provinces – Baeng, Houn, Namor, Nga and Pakbaeng districts in Oudomxay, and Hongsa, Ngeun, Xienghon and Xaysathan districts in Xayaboury – to share experiences of good practices and lessons learnt.

In the south, the programme is being implemented in five districts – Dakcheung district in Xekong, Ta’Oy and Samuay districts in Saravan, and Phouvong and Sanxay districts in Attapeu province .

The Soum Son Seun Jai programme is part of the project and targets 17,000 poor households in 225 targeted villages, while the Southern Laos Food and Nutrition Security and Market Linkages Programme contributes to 12,000 households in 175 villages.

FNML Team Leader Mr. Meuanedoung Phetvilay and Soum Son Seun Jai National Programme Director Mr. Khonesavanh Vongxay recently stressed the importance of the project.

The targeted districts are among the poorest in the country. People here face particular constraints resulting from their remote location and isolation, and the households of ethnic groups which make up the majority of the population are among the most food-insecure.

The programme’s goal is to contribute to reducing extreme poverty and hunger. Specifically, it will focus on food and nutrition security and pro-poor market access, rural finance inclusion, and institutional support.

The main target group comprises the populations of 175 villages that combine conditions of poverty with production and market potential. Women constitute a specific cohort within the main target group to ensure their equal or priority access to programme services and benefits.

Presently this activity involves five villages in Phouvong district, Attapeu province, and has over 150 direct beneficiaries.

Villagers in the district earn approximately 100,000 kip a day from selling banana chips and the FNML will upscale this activity to 10 villages in the future.

Soum Son Seun Jai staff asked the villagers about the best practices in processing banana chips.

The villagers said they were very happy to have the project staff visit them and explained how they benefit from FNML’s intervention and how they generate income from selling banana chips.

Both the IFAD-funded programmes aim to help villagers who suffer chronic food insecurity with low food production, low income generation and inappropriate dietary practices and with fragile livelihoods to establish various activities so they have a sustainable food source, better nutrition, and some form of incom e generation.

The goal of the programmes is to provide beneficiaries with a diversified food programme throughout the year, reduce malnutrition in children under five, and increase incomes and ownership of household a ssets.

It is expected that there will be more such visits between the IFAD-funded programmes in Laos, so that everyone can benefit from the experience and create a viable way forward to help villagers overcome poverty.

Source: Vientiane Times