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Development Fund
August 13, 2007

EU identifies new programme
The European Union is in the process of identifying a new form of development assistance in Laos , to replace the Micro-Project Development through Local Community (MDLC) project, which ended last week, Vientiane Times reported.

The new programme, which will run from 2007 to 2010, costing around 8 million Euro, is entitled ‘Sustainable Development in Uplands and Relocation'.

The Charge d'Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union, Mr Sandro Cerrato, explained at the closing ceremony of the MDLC in Luang Prabang last week that the nature of EU assistance to Laos is changing.

“Although in the future we will have a significant increase in EU funding for development aid in Laos , this is not likely to take the form of rural development projects like the MDLC,” he said.

“However, I would like to confirm that we are not abandoning the rural sector in our development cooperation.”

Luang Prabang and Luang Namtha provinces have received continual support from the EU for several years, and there are still some ongoing projects.

These include the Basic Education Project that helps build and expand schools and train teachers; the Livestock Project that assists farmers to improve their holding of cattle, pigs and poultry; and the Food Security Project that targets some of the country's poorest people.

“The EU will not be leaving the two provinces for some time yet,” Mr Sandro said.

The closing ceremony of the MDLC project was attended by project staff and high-ranking provincial officials, including the Luang Prabang governor, Mr Bounheuang Duangphachan.

Overall, the programme received 10 million euro in the form of grant assistance from the EU, and began in March, 2002 in the remote uplands of four districts in two provinces – Chomphet and Viengkham districts of Luang Prabang province, and Viengphoukha and Long district of Luang Namtha province.

The programme has worked with 8,885 households in 123 villages of the two provinces and has completed more than 1,000 micro-projects, raising food security by 21 percent and household income from US$150 to US$400 in the last 30 months, according to the project report.

According to the project report, enrolment in secondary schools more than doubled as a result of the MDLC project.

In addition, the project constructed 24 roads and 19 bridges linking remote villages to urban towns, to encourage more commercial production and trade for local people.

The project also provided for the establishment of 71 village funds to allow villagers to borrow money for farming, trade and healthcare. Vientiane Times


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