China, Laos innovate poverty reduction cooperation along Mekong River

International Cooperation

Along the Mekong River which winds through the mountains in northern and central Laos, the poverty alleviation projects with China aid are solidly advanced there with innovation made.

XinhuaUpdated:  September 13, 2021

Along the Mekong River which winds through the mountains in northern and central Laos, the poverty alleviation projects with China aid are solidly advanced there with innovation made.

In the steepy mountains and deep valleys of the Mekong River Basin, infrastructure is weak. The China-aided rural poverty alleviation facilities are scheduled to be completed by April 2022.

The electricity and water supply project in Vangbong Village and the public health project in Pakchim Village of the Luang Prabang Province, some 220 km north of Lao capital Vientiane, will be put into use by Oct. 30, 2021, ahead of schedule, to meet the urgent needs of the villagers.

"Our village had been looking forward to electricity and water supply in a future time, and now the Chinese brothers have helped us achieve the goals beyond our expectation. We are grateful for that," Kai, the village head of Vangbong, told Xinhua in this July. "With the electricity supply, we can contact the outside to promote our produce, while with clean water supply, we will be healthier to live a better life."

Xiang Horm, head of the Pakchim village also told Xinhua, "I was quite afraid of family members falling sick, because the patients would suffer a lot as there was no clinic in the village. Now it has been much better, since China has helped us build a clinic in the village. Even I do not speak any big words, I have seen the concrete and tangible helps from China, for which I am expressing my heartfelt gratitude."

The China-aided rural poverty alleviation facility construction project in Laos, drawing on China's experience and model to help solve local livelihood and development problems, is the first project to implement the "build-by-the recipient country" model in Laos, for which the bidding was organized by local authorities.

Zhao Wenyu, the economic and commercial counselor of the Chinese embassy to Laos, has told Xinhua, "Now we can see that this model can better integrate the needs of recipient country, reduce costs and make better use of the funding."

In a village named Xienglom in Luang Prabang located in the Mekong River Basin, video conversations over poverty reduction between local villagers and Chinese counterparts in Dazhai Village of southern China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, have been possible to hold frequently. Dazhai and Xienglom are the first pair of "friendly villages" for poverty reduction between China and Laos.

In September 2017, poverty reduction experts from Guangxi and Lao officials formed a joint project management office to implement the China-aided Laos poverty reduction demonstration cooperation technical assistance project.

After research in Xienglom village in Luang Prabang and Ban Xor village in Vientiane, the Chinese experts, taking consideration of the actual situation and the wishes of the villagers, helped the villagers form nine cooperative farmers' groups, and supported 176 demonstration households, developing characteristic industries such as cattle farming, vegetable cultivation, weaving and rural tourism.

The two villages have taken on a new look with asphalt roads, solar street lights, village halls, clinics, new school playgrounds and dormitories, and steel bridges across the river, and every household has access to tap water.

China-aided programs have been focusing more on traditional cultural heritage and environmental protection, as well as on the development of vulnerable groups such as women and children and poor households.

Phouthong, once a poverty-stricken housewife in Xienglom village, has been actively leading women in the village to join a weaving group with the support from the project.

"We weave in our spare time, and each group member now can earn 6.9 million Lao kip (around 720 U.S. dollars) a year, which not only help the family, but also to improve our social status," she said.

Under the poverty reduction demonstration cooperation technical assistance project, the production and livelihood and the farmers' management capacity have improved significantly, while the proportion of poor households in the project villages has decreased from 52 percent in 2017 to 25 percent in 2020.

At the opening ceremony for the rural poverty alleviation facility construction project held in March this year, Khemmani Pholsena, Lao minister to the Presidential Office, said, "China's overall victory in the fight against poverty has not only brought a better life to the Chinese people, but also brought real benefits to the people of the world, because China's success experiences can also be practical reference for all countries in the world, especially the developing countries."