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LAOS: Finding alternatives to resettlement

LAOS: Finding alternatives to resettlement

VIENTIANE, 17 December 2008 (IRIN) -


 The issue of how to ensure that remote communities have access to transportation and other services to achieve adequate standards of living has often resulted in controversial resettlement schemes*. Now the Lao government is collaborating with the international NGO, Action Contre la Faim, and the European Commission, to offer an alternative. 

"In 2004, ACF conducted an internal study of the development effect of resettlement on the communities from the Lao uplands to the plains," the ACF head of mission in Laos, Emmanuel Cibla, told IRIN. "The study found that for resettlement to be a success it has to be properly planned and assisted or poverty can be exacerbated." 

He said the study showed higher rates of mortality in the recently resettled villages and a lack of access to farmland and forests, increased food insecurity and vulnerability. 

"The government's aim of resettlement was to reduce poverty and abolish slash-and-burn agriculture," Cibla said, adding that in some instances, it did not work. "Our idea was to offer an alternative which would achieve the same goals but in the communities' own environment." 

Since the study, the government has established criteria for relocation. They include villages with populations below 200, lack of access to potable water or roads, as well as communities that rely on slash-and-burn cultivation. 

The ACF programme works mainly with ethnic minority villages slated for resettlement but with the potential for in-situ rural development. The NGO also occasionally assists communities that have already been resettled on land that offers the potential for rural development. 

The primary aim of the programme is to work with the government and villagers to help them increase food security, improve sanitary conditions and reduce poverty, which is the principal driver for relocation. The ACF-assisted projects include installing drinking water systems, prevention of malaria and water-borne diseases, promotion of home gardening, development of paddy agriculture and irrigation and construction of access roads. 

Photo: ReliefWeb

-- Edited by khonthakek at 12:27, 2008-12-19



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