World Renew has been working in Laos since 1997 and received official registration in 2003. World Renew is strengthening communities and helping community members improve their lives through programs in agriculture, community development, health, clean water, education, and literacy. World Renew in Laos is somewhat unique as they are directly involved in implementing projects rather than working in an advisory or capacity building role among a variety of local partners as in most other countries where World Renew works. The reason for this is that the government in Laos has only recently enacted a law permitting the formation of local non-profit associations (NPA’s) and the registration process is long and complicated and thus currently there are no potential legally registered partners who encompass World Renew’s vision and mission.
World Renew Partners In Laos
Concern and Unity For Development (HHP)
Currently HHP* is implementing two projects in northern Laos:
Xieng Khouang Community Development Project (XKH-CDP):
Through the XKH-CDP, World Renew works with 37 Hmong, Pong and Khmu communities in Kham, Nonghet and Khoun districts of Xieng Khouang Province (site of the famous Plain of Jars) in northern Laos. Phase 3 of our work in Xieng Khouang started in March 2014 and is planned to continue for a 5 year timeframe.
Phongsaly Community Development Project (PSL-CDP):
Through the PSL-CDP, World Renew works with 14 ethnic minority communities (Rshi -related to the Akha -, Laobit, Taidam, Lao Saeng, and Khmu), in Mai District of Phongsaly Province in the far northeastern part of Laos. The first 5 year phase of this project ended in January 2013 and Phase 2 ,which continues capacity building in 7 of the original target villages along with adding on 9 villages to the target area, started officially in February 2014.
Both projects have a similar integrated and transformational development approach which strives to improve lives and communities through activities in:
Agriculture: Farmers are trained on improved techniques to produce, store and market cash crops. Key inputs such as improved varieties of seeds and tree seedlings (including cardamon, coffee, galangal, etc) are provided. Small scale irrigation systems and small village access roads are designed and built together with the community. Training is provided for farmers to improve crop and animal production systems as they learn how to conduct experiments to identify for themselves how to improve their crop farming and animal raising systems. Recently the projects have started to focus more on sustainability aspects of agriculture production systems including a focus on agroforestry and the use of cover crops.
Community Development: Members of communities form Village Development Committees (VDCs). VDCs develop a vision for their community based on community identified needs. Project staff then provide the VDC’s with appropriate training with the goal of building their capacity to sustain the development process after the project phases end.
Health: Project staff help communities identify people who could become Village Health Volunteers (VHV’s). These men and women are trained in basic components of health care. Then they conduct training on hygiene, sanitation, family planning, and immunization throughout their village. Clean water systems are designed and constructed together with community members to improve quality and quantity of water available in the village. World Renew is also part of a Nutrition Alliance that has developed a nutrition training targeted to have an impact on reducing the levels of malnutrition among children in Laos.
Education & Literacy: Teachers and parents are trained on how to more effectively monitor students’ progress throughout primary school. Project staff also organize literacy classes for adults. We have also developed a new curriculum that is more appropriate for literacy classes in ethnic minority communities. Together with contribution from communities, quality schools are constructed. We are also currently piloting school readiness preschool activities suited for ethnic minorities. In addition, we have been learning a lot about how to effectively incorporate Ethno arts to improve our development activities.
* HHP is the acronym for the Lao name for World Renew which the Project Management staff agreed upon in 2004!