Houaphan Alternative Development Programme Module
In 2009, Houphan province had about 205,25 ha of opium poppy cultivation of which 191 ha have been eradicated to date. Addiction rates also fell to 1.39% (incl. 0.4% women).
Despite the fact that opium poppy cultivation and opium addiction have strongly decreased following the official ban on opium poppy cultivation and consumption, Houaphan remains one of the main opium poppy growing provinces.
This is mostly due to isolation and remoteness which accounts for Houaphan being one of the poorest provinces in the Lao PDR, where villagers' living conditions standards can at times be too critical for sustained opium elimination.
The Houaphan Alternative Development Project:
The UNODC alternative development project in Houaphan has been designed to lift people out of poverty in conjuncture with efforts to attain the Millennium Development Goals.
The project provides assistance to former opium planting communities in order to promote village based organisation, alternative sustainable livelihoods, drug demand reduction, village savings and credit groups, gender mainstreaming , community based treatment and the development of community infrastructures.
Implementation is closely coordinated with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), which have taken on the task of implementing essential community infrastructures, which in turn will result in the desired synergy toward achieving the goals of the National Growth and Poverty Eradication Strategy (NGPES) within the target villages.
Immediate objectives and planned outputs:
UNODC Houaphan project aims to reduce poverty and strengthen community capacities by improving villagers' source of income and by giving farmers an economically viable and legal alternative to growing opium.
- The immediate objective of the project is to sustain the elimination of poppy cultivation, production and abuse by providing former opium farmers with community based treatment, alternative income generating activities and micro credit activities over a period of 3 years.
- To contribute to an economically viable and legal alternative development, the project focuses on:
- Providing treatment and rehabilitation over three hundred opium addicts (including 52 females) in 27 villages and assist in the provision of health-care services.
- Raising awareness of the population within the two targeted districts on the dangers of drugs uses as well as on basic health care principles
- Ensuring capacity building by strengthening and establishing 27 Village Development Committees and planning as well as working closely with local governmental agencies.
- Establishing 27 Village savings and credit Groups and promoting income generating activities through the development of micro credit groups.
- Build village infrastructures such as water supply systems, latrines and roads through coordination with an ADB parallel project.
Main Achievements (after 2 years)
- Poverty reduced by 20% (80% living below the poverty line in 2007, 60% in 2009).
- 3 sessions of opium addicts detoxification, carried out within the 2 targeted districts, treating 122 opium addicts including 22 females.
- 27 Village Development Committees (VDC) established, and that currently involve 135 participants, including 42 females.
- On-going training on village development plan for VDCs in 27 villages, involving 100 participants, including 21 females.
- 25 awareness campaigns raised covering 9,092 persons including 2,317 females in 13 villages (around 70% of the population covered), 6 schools (around 78% of the students covered) and 3 festivals.
- Established 15 village savings credit groups (VSCGs) (5 villages in Xamneua, and 10 villages in Xamtai), currently involving 1111 members with a total amount of savings assessed to 149,000,000 kip.
- 3 model villages established in Xamneua zone (Kang Ko, Houy Ko, and Kang Keak) emphasizing hygiene, drug control, and production of goods. These model villages comprise 1318 participants including 776 females.
- 4 pig breeding activities involving 18 participants and emphasizing adequate breeding standards.
Target Ethnic Minorities
The project target villages comprises 1,817 families with a total population assessed to 12,846 persons, of which 6,298 are women. The beneficiaries are the following minority ethnic groups :Lao Loum (30%), Khmu (20%), and Hmong ( 50%) in the districts of Xamneua (8 villages) and Xamtai (19 villages)
At the district level, the District Committee for Drug Control and Supervision (DCDC) is the main counterpart. Moreover, a project team consisting of district officers from the agricultural, health, education, road/construction and youth departments, the Lao Women Union's (LWU) and the governors' office will be responsible for implementing, coordinating, monitoring and supporting project activities.
Coordination and Partnerships:
UNODC closely coordinates with other international agencies such as Care International, the German Agro Action and the Danish Red Cross to strengthen the impact and outcomes of the project.