Lao People's Democratic Republic

The commitment to eradication efforts of the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic has helped the country to reduce opium poppy cultivation to marginal levels. This is an enormous success considering that as recently as 1998, the country was the third-largest illicit opium poppy producer in the world and had one of the highest opium addiction rates. From 1998 to 2005, opium poppy cultivation in the Lao People's Democratic Republic was reduced by 93 per cent and opium addiction by 68 per cent.

In 2005, it became illegal to cultivate opium poppy in the country, leaving many farmers without the means to make a living.  UNODC has worked closely with the Government to ensure the sustainability and continuation of alternative development projects in order to promote food security, manage the fragile environment and provide livelihood opportunities to small-scale farmers to prevent the resurgence of opium poppy cultivation.

In 2008, the total area under opium poppy cultivation in the Lao People's Democratic Republic was estimated at 1,600 hectares. Since then, cultivation levels have rapidly increased, endangering the progress made before. From 2008 to  2011, when the most recent survey was carried out, the area under cultivation had more than doubled, now amounting 4,100 ha.

Promoting gender equality

Women have greatly benefited from the move away from opium poppy cultivation, as they used to perform most of the labour-intensive duties associated with that cultivation. Today, many of them are involved in growing rice and maize, and in rearing livestock. In addition, more girls are enrolled in school and it has been reported that there has been a decrease in domestic abuse cases. This is the result of an overarching UNODC strategy to include gender mainstreaming as a main component in all of its projects.

Assisting former opium poppy farmers

A socio-economic impact survey conducted by UNODC has shown that half of the communities who used to be involved in opium poppy cultivation need urgent assistance. The UNODC-supported programme entitled "National Programme Strategy for the Post-Opium Scenario" will target 1,100 priority villages. UNODC is assisting with the mapping of these villages in order to identify development partners and prioritize development intervention.


Alternative development projects in the Lao People's Democratic Republic