Activities in Laos

Assistance Policy in Laos

Located in the Indochina peninsula at the heart of the Greater Mekong region, the Lao PDR shares its border with five countries: Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam. Given its geopolitical position, the security and prosperity of the Lao PDR can be seen as a precondition for the security and prosperity of the Greater Mekong region and the wider ASEAN community.

The Lao PDR has grown its economy at the remarkable annual rate of almost eight percent in recent years through the mining of its mineral resources and hydroelectric power generation. Despite such robust economic growth, the country must overcome a number of challenges if it is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and graduate from the United Nations’ index of Least-Developed Countries. Japan encourages the Lao PDR to take on these challenges using a balanced approach that also addresses and mitigates potential social and environmental disadvantages that can arise as a consequence of such rapid economic growth.

To this end, Japan, through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), extends Official Development Assistance (ODA) in a number of sectors to facilitate socio-economic development in the Lao PDR, narrow the development gap between the Lao PDR and its ASEAN neighbors, and strengthen interconnection across the ASEAN region. Indeed, today, JICA is recognized as the leading bilateral development organization to the Lao PDR.

(1) Development of Economic and Social Infrastructure

JICA supports numerous infrastructure projects, including the development of essential transport networks (roads, bridges, airports) that are instrumental to strengthening ASEAN connectivity. It also supports projects such as logistics parks that improve and facilitate the investment and trade environment, encouraging greater confidence and investment from the private sector, including Japanese companies.

Alongside improving transport and economic links, JICA projects support safe and stable electricity generation, connectivity and expansion, which help to lessen disparities in access to electricity across the Lao PDR, as well as contributing to the national economy through power exports.

At the same time, in order to achieve balanced economic growth, JICA provides assistance in the fields of environmental management, water treatment, and urban planning that contribute significantly to creating environments that meet the needs of local communities and wider society.

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(2) Agricultural Development, Forestry and Conservation

Agriculture is a key industry in the Lao PDR. JICA assistance aims to increase productivity in this sector through projects that promote irrigated agriculture and the cultivation of commercial crops. These activities help to increase the earnings of farmers who constitute the majority of the country's poor, as well as helping the Lao PDR to realize stable economic growth and narrow the development gap between urban and rural areas. At the same time, JICA extends assistance towards sustainable use of forest resources, which facilitates forest conservation, livelihood improvement and poverty reduction.

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(3) Improvement of Educational Environment and Human Resource Development

Socio-economic development in the Lao PDR is reliant upon the development of human resources. With this in mind, JICA provides assistance to help improve the country's educational environment, raise the quality of teachers, and enhance the management of schools. Particular attention is paid to science and mathematics instruction in primary and secondary education. Assistance is also extended to higher education and technical and vocational education in order to enhance the Lao private economic sector.

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(4) Improvement of Healthcare Services

JICA provides assistance to help strengthen the Lao healthcare system with a view to achieving the health-related MDGs. JICA projects in the health sector focus on developing human resources and improving health facilities, helping to increase access to healthcare services, particularly those targeting Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health.

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(5) Others

  1. Be mindful of the need to improve governance such as administrative capacity, institutional building and the judicial system, to help promote development and improve the effectiveness of assistance.
  2. Based on the action plan for "A Decade toward the Green Mekong" Initiative, be mindful of compatibility between environmental impact and economic growth, sustainable development, and the need for measures against climate change.
  3. Unexploded ordnance (UXO), which continues to blight many parts of the country, presents a barrier to socio-economic development by impeding the expansion of farming and infrastructure. Be mindful of UXO clearance as a cross-sectoral issue.

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