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Laos: community development and agriculture beyond the pandemic


Humana Fundación Pueblo para Pueblo in Laos continues at a very good pace with the 'Partnership for Improved Nutrition in Lao PDR' program, launched by Health Poverty Action, the Khammuane Province Health Office and the European Union, as part of the efforts of the global movement "Scaling Up Nutrition" (SUN).

The program, implemented in 6 districts of the Khammouane province, aims to improve nutrition and food security in 5,000 households, paying special attention to the most vulnerable populations such as children under 5, adolescent women and women in fertile age, migrants and ethnic minorities. The project is indirectly benefiting nearly 400,000 men and women from 583 villages in the province.

Slowdown in activity due to confinement

The possible spread of COVID19 and the containment measures taken by the Lao government slowed the project's normal activity for a few weeks. Thus, the number of field visits decreased, so the team concentrated on administrative tasks and preparatory meetings, ensuring social distancing and adopting the corresponding hygiene and protection measures. It is true that the incidence in the country of COVID19 has been minimal, with only 19 diagnosed cases and no victims, largely the result of these measures of confinement.

Little by little the field work and the continuous contact with the communities has been resumed. Model gardens, where small farmers learn new cultivation techniques, are now functioning normally. In fact, they are already harvesting the first vegetables. Kuanta Khienmany is one of the participants in the action: “We used to grow vegetables individually, but now we do it all together, in the community fields. This makes us stronger as a community. Since joining the project, I have learned a lot about organic farming. I am pregnant with my third child and it is very good for me and my family to be able to eat more vegetables and have a more varied diet. ”

The work of the agricultural instructors hand in hand with the small farmers is essential. Vilath is one of these 20 instructors (7 of them are women). Its work is carried out in the Mahaxay and Yommalath districts. Vilath himself comments that "one of my objectives is for farmers to increase the productivity of their gardens and, with it, improve their livelihood and that of their families."

Field visits to monitor progress

A visit has recently been carried out with different provincial and district authorities of agriculture and health, including also the governors of the 6 districts involved in the project, to learn first-hand about the work and progress recorded in recent months. An example is the training sessions on seed selection and placement of vegetable seedlings in orchards. At the same time, various preparatory meetings were held for the activities to be carried out in the near future.

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