Norwegian Church Aid in Laos
- Been here since: 1986 (Also supported in 1970-1971)
- Money spent in 2015: 11.7 million NOK
Norwegian Church Aid has worked in Laos since the beginning of the 1990s. Today, the focus of our work is on gender justice and economic justice. By 31.10.2016 we closed down our Laos programme.
The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) was established in 1975 in the wake of decades of civil war and heavy involvement in the larger Indochina war. Despite enjoying a period of relative peace since its founding, and more recent significant economic gains seeing a average anual economic growth of 7.3%, Laos remains one of the the poorest countries in Asia, ranking 133 of 177 in the Human Development Index in 2009.. Many of the poorest districts are located in the country’s northwest, which is home to a primarily indigenous population and characterised by limited access to basic services.
Laos is increasingly experiencing the effects of its location in the middle of a rapidly developing Southeast Asia. These include increased trafficking, the spread of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, the effects of climate change and the development of a market economy.
Norwegian Church Aid implements programmes in cooperation with national government agencies and local communities to ensure development of local capacity and responsiveness to local needs. The government has recently approved the establishment of local associations in Laos, and Norwegian Church Aid will also support this process. Our projects are implemented primarily in the northwestern and southern provinces.
Norwegian Church Aid has worked in the mountainous areas of northwestern Laos for 20 years to improve indigenous communities’ livelihoods and access to social services. This work will continue with a focus on providing opportunities for income generation and access to credit and markets. We will also assist communities in sustainable management of local natural resources.
Norwegian Church Aid has documented the effects of climate change in our programme areas, especially on the poorest people who are less able to recover from climate-related stresses. This new programme will work to strengthen indigenous people’s resilience to a changing climate and will be closely linked to food security initiatives under the ‘Livelihood and trade’ programme.
Norwegian Church Aid will continue to provide care, legal assistance and economic support to people living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. We will also create awareness in affected communities to combat stigmatisation and discrimination, especially towards children living with or orphaned by the disease. The closely linked issues of gender-based violence, high-risk behaviour and HIV/STI prevalence in some communities will also be addressed.
Norwegian Church Aid will continue to build on its ten years of experience in ending human trafficking and promoting safe migration in Laos. Domestic violence, especially in indigenous communities, will also be addressed through culturally-sensitive forms of advocacy. We will draw on national laws and international conventions developed to address gender-based violence as part of this work.
Norwegian Church Aid is the only member of Action by Churches Together (ACT) with a substantial programme in Laos, however, the Lutheran World Federationand and DanChurchAid are now renting office spaces with Norwegian Church Aid. Both alliance members are interested in close cooperation in areas such as fund raising and capacity development and DanChurchAid's work will begin in 2014.
The Norwegian Church Aid office in Laos is responsible for following our programme in Laos, Myanmar/Burma and Thailand.