Program Background

The Xelanong 1st dam under construction near our target site (April 2019).

Many people in Laos make a living by farming and gathering foods (mushroom, bamboo shoot, fish, etc.) and woods from surrounding forests and rivers to make fuelwood, medicine and so on. On the other hand, resource-dependent large-scale development projects such as the construction of hydroelectric power dams and mining have proceeded under policies with high priority on economic growth. Land expropriation in a forcible manner damages the environment and affects the lives of local people. One of JVC’s goals is to support the stable life of local people in a society facing significant changes. We do this by supporting people in rural areas so that they can manage and use natural resources themselves in a sustainable manner and improving agricultural techniques.

A Story in Our Activity Area

People of Alan village and JVC staff discussing with the village map.

In Alan village, Savannakhet Province, which is located in the southern central part of Laos, deforestation has been going on because woods have been cut for sale and a hydropower dam project is clearing forests to get stones and soil for its construction. Before, the villagers do not have a deep knowledge on how to stop deforestation and conserve the forests that they are using. Through discussions with JVC staff, the villagers came up with an idea of putting signboards that show customary rules on forest conservation and a map of the village. The signboards can help government officials and people who come to get woods understand that the forest belongs to the village and cutting woods is prohibited. The rules and the map are almost ready and further discussion is going on in the village. They are planning to set several signboards so that many people in the entire village can explain the rules to people from outside. They discuss that they should refrain from clearing the trees in an unplanned manner as well.

Supporting Independent Management and Use of Natural Resources

Outline of the Activities

In order to collect data from the target villages, we measured the boundaries of six villages by using GPS and researched the types of fishes observed in three villages. Then, we established a community forest and fish conservation zones in these three villages. In the opening ceremony, we shared booklets compiling the basic data and the maps of each village with the villagers. We created the 2020 version of the calendar promoting legal awareness in cooperation with government bodies and other NGOs to promote the rights of local people to natural resources. We also held legal training using the calendar for government officials and villagers. In addition, we held training to promote awareness of gender-equal participation in management and use of natural resources.

JVC staff asking about the kinds of fish in a village.

Observed Changes

After receiving maps and data, the villagers can now get a clear grasp of the territory and the situation of their villages. They are motivated to use the data to tell the younger generation about the history of their village and explain the situation to people coming from outside.

Training on Agricultural Techniques and Development/Repair of Wells

Outline of the Activities

To increase yields, we held training on different agricultural techniques such as the improvement of rice farming, cultivation of mushroom and rattan, a vaccination for livestock, etc. Also, we held training on ensuring a stable supply of water by developing and repairing wells.

Villagers talking about gender equality with visual aids.

Observed Changes

The villagers gained knowledge and skills on how to increase yield, to protect livestock from diseases and so on through the training they received. It helped villagers to find new ways in making a living such as by selling mushrooms. The training on the development and repair of wells gave them a stable supply of clean water throughout the year.

Building Network & Sharing Information

Outline of the Activities

In the Farmers’ School of Atsaphangthong district constructed last year, we held two joint meetings gathering people from the target villages. We participated in regular meetings held by NGOs based in Savannakhet province to build a network with other NGOs. We visited the central government officials and related organizations and distributed booklets in Laotian which compiled data from the target villages to share the information.

Observed Changes

Villagers deepened their understanding of the common challenges in their local area, (for example, rice cultivation techniques etc.) and learned how to deal with them. We built relationships and mutual understandings with other NGOs and can share the achievements in this project with them.

A villager cultivating mushrooms using the knowledge gained from the training.

A scene of the training on rice cultivation techniques with farmers from Thailand.

[Source: JVC Annual Report 2019]

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