CUSO-VSO is VSO International's representative organisation in Lao People's Democratic Republic.
CUSO-VSO has been working in partnership with the Government of Lao PDR since 1987. We are implementing a strategy to improve the lives of poor and marginalised communities in Lao PDR with two main areas of focus:
To improve the income, food security and resilience of 90 marginalised communities in Lao PDR through adapted livelihoods activities.
To support the development of a vibrant civil society in Lao PDR to effectively represent and provide quality services to poor and disadvantaged communities.
Lao PDR is rich in natural resources and this has attracted significant foreign investment in mining, hydropower and agriculture. Although this contributes to economic growth, it also puts pressure on natural resources and often results in dramatic changes in land use. With the large majority of rural population dependent on natural resources for their food and incomes, such changes often impact on their livelihoods and ability to feed their families. Climate change and the related impacts of extreme weather events, such as floods, droughts and typhoons, further exacerbate these risks.
CUSO-VSO is supporting rural communities in Lao PDR to develop greater resilience to climate change and improve their income and food security. This is being achieved through training and support to develop diversified sources of livelihood for vulnerable communities, including both agricultural (crops and livestock) and non-agricultural activities. We aim to work with government and other development organisations to help farmers to by adapt agricultural practices, introduce improved crop varieties and new technologies. We will also enable people in poor communities to earn a better and more reliable income through participation in markets. In collaboration with national networks and over 30 local organisations, we will work to address unsustainable use of natural resources in Lao PDR.
Participation and governance
Lao PDR has one of the weakest civil societies in the world. In recent years, however, the Government of Lao has begun to acknowledge the important role that civil society has to play in delivering better services for poor communities and supporting sustainable development, recently allowing for the legal registration of non-profit associations. A network of local organisations, Learning House for Development (LHD), has recently been established, and the International NGO network here is also undergoing notable development. However, there is much to be done and CUSO-VSO has a wealth of experience and a key role to play in supporting the development of civil society.
We aim to increase the participation and voice of poor and disadvantaged groups, including ethnic minorities and vulnerable women, in and the development of their communities, building the capacity of local non-profit organisations and networks and promoting better joint working between government and civil society. CUSO-VSO will also provide opportunities for ethnic youth and young women to develop new skills and actively engage in the development of their communities, supporting internships with local organisations and empowering young people to lead on local community development projects.
Get in touch with VSO Laos at:
PO Box 3517 Vientiane Capital, Lao PDR