The international agency Oxfam supports the Asia-Europe People’s Forum process to ensure the voice of Lao people is heard by decision-makers before, during and after the Forum. The ninth Asia-Europe People’s Forum (AEPF), which will open its doors in Vientiane, capital of Laos, tomorrow, provides an unprecedented opportunity for all actors from Lao civil society to support a more open debate and empower citizens to be part of the development of their country.
Dominique Van der Borght, Country Director of Oxfam in Laos said: “The AEPF process is a great opportunity for widening the space and increasing the visibility and legitimacy of Lao associations which are now officially recognized since a Decree from 2009. We hope the AEPF process will open the path to a participative policy dialogue, including the Lao communities themselves, to make sure development opportunities in Lao PDR benefit to the overall population. This is also the best way to achieve the MDGs and build a future free from the injustice of poverty for Lao people”.
To guarantee an effective participation of the Lao population to the People’s vision which will be submitted to the ASEM9, the Lao National Organizing Committee (NOC) undertook grassroots consultations across all 16 provinces to gather Lao people’s perspectives on their well-being and issues relating to development and poverty reduction. “For the first time, the Government of Laos, the four mass organizations and civil society organizations, including Lao associations and international NGOs worked together to conduct these extensive consultation workshops. Lao people have not only been consulted before the AEPF but will also actively participate in the event. To ensure that the people’s voice is present at the AEPF, we support the participation of people coming from all provinces such as village leaders, nurses, teachers etc. Some of them will see the capital of their country for the first time and will have an extraordinary opportunity to exchange ideas with people coming from other parts of Laos or other countries” he said.
Sombath Somphone, founder of Participatory Development Training Center (or PADETC), a partner of Oxfam and Co-chair of the National Organizing Committee for AEPF9, said: “These grassroots consultations did not measure income or material poverty. Instead, they adopted an innovative approach focused on clear concepts that are easily understandable by all: “happiness” (khouam souk in Lao) and “poverty/suffering” (khouam thuk). This first-of-its-kind exercise produced very interesting results and is expected to form the basis for further dialogue with decision-makers. Together, the government, the mass organizations, civil society groups, the private sector, and the Lao people can strengthen sustainable development for all in Laos”.
For further inquiry, please contact:
[Dominique Van der Borght, Country Director of Oxfam in Laos]
[Mobile: +856 020 5546 3359]
[Email address: email@example.com]
*The four mass organizations participating are the Youth Union, the Women’s Union, the National Reconstruction Front and the Trade Union.