Officials, experts and beneficiaries of a Norwegian assistance programme hope target communities continue the capacity development founded by the project once the support ends.
They expressed this desire at the closure of support provided by Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), which has been implemented in 11 provinces of Laos over the past 30 years valued at US$13 million.
The NCA support has focused on socio-economic vulnerability, particularly on ethnic people in remote rural areas.
The priority programmes have been drug demand and supply reduction, basic education, prevention of gender-based violence, mitigation of HIV/AIDS, climate change adaptation and mitigation, as well as capacity building of local administrations, and faith based organisations such as Lao Buddhists for Development, in participatory community development.
After the closing of NCA its Lao staff will continue working in the field of basic education and women’s empowerment through a non-profit organisation being established under the name of Namjai Community Association with funding support of Norwegian and other international organisations.
Former NCA HIV/AIDS Regional Coordinator Ms Somthong Srisudhivong said As we have enough invested in this country with lots of achievements and personnel trained, especially on HIV/AIDS, what we would like from now on is to build local capacity initiatives and facilitate the mobilisation of knowledge and utilisation of the developed capacity.
Ms Somthong stressed that working closely with target groups in communities was very effective therefore it was important that the communities were facilitated to play the role in blood checks, recognition and care of each other as to comply with fast check, fast know, and treated.
Lao Buddhism Fellowship’s Metadham is an organisation which participated in implementing the assistance programme, especially in mental treatment of HIV infected people.
Venerable AthiprataiMaitrichit from the Metadham, who has also developed a Buddhist life skills curriculum, said he wanted monks to work with laity where the Buddhism statute did not prohibit.
NCA Lao Deputy Programme Manager Mr. Sithonh Soundara said he was proud of the successful assistance programme, which he said had established a treatment facility for HIV infected people in Bokeo province’s Tonpheung district, which lightened the burden on people who previously had to travel to get treatment in Thailand.
Another proud achievement of Mr. Sithonh was that orphans whose parents had died from AIDS could be assisted until they became trainee doctors.
Ms Somthong said helping a man in despair infected with HIV to stand and fight for his life, and assisting HIV infected people in the country, filled her with incomparable pride.
An HIV infected lady from Luang Namtha province said although the assistance programme had finished she hoped that all HIV infected people in the country had ARV tablets available for them.
Source: Vientiane Times