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USAID promises to extend support for Laos’ development

San Francisco, California -- Even though many non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Laos are planning to cut financial support when Laos is removed from the United Nations’ list of least developed countries in the next few years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) thinks in a different way.
USAID will continue to assist Laos with its development even after the nation graduates from least developed country status, which it is currently on track to achieve in the early 2020s.

Acting Assistant Administrator of USAID in Washington DC, Ms Gloria D. Steele.

Some NGOS are already making plans to reduce their financial support for the Lao government and will completely cut financial assistance when Laos is removed by the United Nations from the list of least developed countries.
These NGOs will use their financial resources to help other least developed countries, who will be considered as being in greater need of assistance than Laos.
But the Acting Assistant Administrator of USAID in Washington DC, Ms Gloria D. Steele, told Vientiane Times during an ongoing reporting tour under the Indo-Pacific project that Laos has a good partnership with USAID, so there will be no reason to reduce or cut financial support to Laos.
“We will continue to help Laos to achieve its development targets in relation to any areas of our cooperation between USAID and Laos in the Indo-Pacific region,” Ms Steele said.
Despite steady economic growth, development challenges stifle Laos’ progress.
USAID partners with the Lao government, civil society and an emerging private sector to drive sustainable development in economic growth, the rule of law, health and education.
Many of the projects in Laos which are supported by USAID are going very well and some have been successfully completed. These include a nutrition project and another project to eradicate a common eye disease.
USAID works to reduce child stunting in targeted areas of Laos and supports women, men, girls and boys with physical disabilities to gain free access to prosthetics, orthotics and physical therapy.
“We are also helping to modernise the country’s economy, promote sustainable development and biodiversity conservation, and assist victims of unexploded ordnance,” Ms Steele said.
As expanded global connectivity further opens Laos’ borders, USAID works to mitigate the spread of infectious diseases and pandemics.
USAID programmes in Laos help to improve inclusive economic growth and trade and address key climate change, environmental and health and nutrition issues.
USAID also promotes greater inclusion and engagement of people with disabilities by providing quality prosthetics and orthotics services and physical and occupational therapies.
To promote a diversified economy and sustainable, broadly-shared equitable growth, USAID is helping officials to improve the country’s trade and investment-related laws and regulations.
USAID’s programmes engage Laos’ government ministries, the National Assembly and the private sector in policy and trade promotion activities to help meet the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Economic Community commitments.
USAID supports improving forest management practices that reduce carbon emissions from land use and assists communities in becoming more resilient to the adverse impacts of climate change.
Lao officials increasingly factor in environmental and social considerations as they plan for major infrastructure development projects thanks to USAID support.
USAID also raises awareness on the illegal wildlife trade and supports the Lao government’s Wildlife Enforcement Network’s efforts to combat this trade.
It is estimated that USAID provides about US$16 million to support Laos’s development efforts each year.
* This article is written as part of a reporting tour under the Indo-Pacific project, which is supported by the Foreign Press Centre.

By Xayxana Leukai
(Latest Update August 15, 2019

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