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Luxembourg supports alternative livelihoods for poor former opium poppy farmers in Phongsaly.

Vientiane, 20 September 2011: The Lao PDR was able to successfully reduce illicit opium poppy cultivation by over 90% from 1998-2007. However from 2007-2010 illicit opium poppy cultivation has increased from 1500 ha to 3000 ha. The Government of the Lao PDR has identified over 1000 former opium poppy cultivating villages in some of the poorest 47 districts of Laos as requiring alternative development assistance. The National Drug Control Master Plan was approved in 2009 by the Lao Government to ensure continued support and sustainability of drug control efforts.

The LAO-UNODC-LUXEMBOURG Phongsaly Alternative Livelihood and Food Security Project (LAO K46) document was signed during a ceremony between the Government of the Lao PDR (GOL) and UNODC on Thursday, 15 September 2011 .

The document was signed by H.E. Mr. Soubanh Srithirath, Chairman of the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision and Mr. Leik Boonwaat, UNODC Representative.

Witnessing the signing was the Phongsaly Vice Governor and Chairman  of the Phongsaly Provincial Committee for Drug Control (PCDC), as well as representatives from the line ministries and agencies at central level and international organizations.

The project contributes to the implementation of the Comprehensive National Drug Control Master Plan 2009-2013, the 7 th National Social Economic Development Plan 2011-2015 and to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015.

The Luxembourg Government has generously granted US$ 1,200,000 from it's 'Fonds de Lutte contre certaines formes de criminalité 'through UNODC for the implementation of the Phongsaly Alternative Livelihood and Food Security Project. The project will be implemented for a period of 2 years.

This project will expand the successful achievements of the first phase to 16 new villages as well as to consolidate former project activities in 3 districts of Koua, May and Samphan of Phongsaly province. This will ensure that  former opium poppy farmers will have access to sustainable alternative livelihoods development and treatment for remaining drug users.  Farmers from the project area will learn from farmers in Oudomxay who have been trained by the Thai Royal Project Foundation to generate more income and food from small plots of land utilizing improved cropping techniques. This will to some extent contribute to addressing the shortage of arable land.

The project will contribute to the poverty reduction of the 13,120 people in 1,997 households in 46 villages of the 3 above mentioned districts.