A balanced approach to opium elimination in Lao PDR:
Programme Facilitation Unit (LAO/F13) on-going


Immediate Objective

Since 2000, The Programme Facilitation Unit (PFU) has been closely working with the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (LCDC) to support the strategy of the Government of the Lao PDR to eliminate the cultivation and the production of opium as well as reduce abuse of opium, ATS and other illicit drugs in the Lao PDR through civic awareness, alternative development, demand reduction, and law enforcement.

Main Achievements (2000-2009)

To date, the PFU has been responsible for the implementation of the National Programme Strategy, "A Balanced Approach to Opium Elimination in the Lao PDR", that has, since 2000, led to a significant reduction in opium poppy cultivated areas by over 90% and opium addiction by over 84%.

A sample of some of the major successes achieved has included:

  • Creation of a coordinating office that has provided technical, financial and administrative services as the UNODC programme arm for the opium elimination efforts to strengthen the Government's drug control supervisory, and coordination networks.
  • Facilitation of a growth cohesive teamwork effort approach towards opium elimination through organization of regular joint review, monitoring, planning and training workshops at all levels.
  • Implementation of annual opium surveys and a number of qualitative impact socio-economic surveys to guide strategic planning and targeting.
  • Development, supervision and monitoring of strategically located alternative development projects using a community centered approach to eliminate both poverty and opium supply and consumption that has benefited over 300,000 persons.
  • Setting up micro-credit schemes in Northern provinces of Laos supplemented by assistance from other bi-lateral sources that have benefited to over 66% of households in target areas.
  • Supervision and support to the field implementation of the nationwide community based treatment and rehabilitation programme that has provided treatment to over 22,000 opium addicts by with a reported relapse rate of only 34%.
  • Organization of nationwide civic awareness campaigns, against the use of ATS covering 17 provinces.
  • Development of a "national action plan targeting 1,100 priority villages in the post opium scenario" in 2006 that has received national and international backing for a multilateral partnership for sustainable livelihoods and reduction of poverty in former opium dependent communities.

Steps Forward

The Project Facilitation Unit (PFU) will support the implementation of the comprehensive National Drug Control Master Plan (2009-2013) by (1) assisting the Lao Government in monitoring and analyzing drugs trends to develop and ensure adequate governmental policies (2) coordinating and facilitating Drug Control Committee activities at national, provincial and district level and (3) supporting the implementation of UNODC Country Programme nation wide. Some major activities the PFU will undertake will include the following:

Facilitate, support and monitor the ongoing AD programme in northern provinces

Develop new alternative livelihoods strategies and drug demand reduction projects in the 1,100 villages that are most at risk through the development of multiple partnerships capable of addressing critical issues that emerge in the post opium scenario.

Develop a national strategy to reduce the use and abuse by an estimated 40,000 addicts of ATS, contain its spread from the cities into the countryside and stop Laos being used as a transshipment point.

Provide a treatment protocol and national strategy to help ATS users while continuing to provide community based treatment and rehabilitation for an estimated remaining 12,000 opium users in the country.

Pursuing mass civic awareness and drug prevention work.

Support a human rights based approach and efforts to ensure the rule of law.

The Comprehensive Drug Control Master Plan (2009-2013)

Since 2000, PFU has been used as the joint LCDC-UNODC Programme arm to implement the "balanced approach to opium elimination" (2000-2006) and the "National Prgramme Strategy for the Post Opium scenario" (2006-2009). This will continue this year with PFU to be the back bone of the implementation of the new comprehensive National Drug Control Master Plan (2009-2013) which will serve as a policy framework for drug control and prevention in the country and also helps integrate drug control objectives into relevant national and international agencies.

The master plan includes 9 main components:

(1) Trend analysis and risk assessment

(2) Alternative development,

(3) Drug demand reduction,

(4) Civic awareness,

(5) Law enforcement,

(6) Criminal justice,

(7) Chemical precursor control and forensics capacity

(8) International and regional cooperation

(9) Institutional capacity building.