Ten More Civil Society Organisations Support Lao Government Response to COVID-19 Prevention Across Country

CSO signing.
CSO signing.

Ten additional Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) signed partnership agreements last Friday to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in 10 provinces across Laos.

These ten CSO projects, funded by the European Union, will reach over 100,000 people across 102 villages in 16 Districts, including providing 62 handwashing stations and other COVID prevention support to 46 schools, five health centres and ten markets.

The 12-month partnership agreements were signed as part of the ‘Civil Society Action to Prevent and Mitigate COVID-19’ (CiSAC) project, which will improve the nations’ long-term response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The CiSAC project has now provided funding to 20 CSOs in 10 provinces. This essential funding is generously provided by the European Union, contributing to Laos’s COVID-19 response. 

The CiSAC project is lead by a consortium of organizations, including Sustainable Agriculture and Environment for Development Association (SAEDA) and Community Health and Inclusion Association (CHias) and Plan International in Laos, under direction and coordination with the Lao Civil Society Coordination Office (LCCO). 

Each CSO has received 250,000,000LAK for a total value of 2,500,000,000LAK to fight COVID-19. The organizations receiving funding include Maeying Houamjai Pathana (MHP) in Bokeo; The Promotion of Family Health Association (PFHA) in Luang Namtha; Sustainable Development Association (SDA) in Luang Prabang; Promote Sustainable Natural Resources Use Association (PSNUA) in Xayabouly; Rural Research and Development Promoting Knowledge Association (RRDPA) in Vientiane Province; Association for Development of Women and Legal Education (ADWLE) in Vientiane Capital; Learning for Development Association (LDA) in Bolikhamxay; Namjai Community Association (NCA) in Khammouane; Takienglao Association (TKL) in Savannakhet, and; Khong District Community Development Association (KCDA) in Champasak.

The CSO projects will increase community preparedness and response to COVID-19, as well as reduce the negative health and livelihoods impacts from the global pandemic. The projects are increasing access to COVID information, improving hygiene practices and planning for COVID responses, including support to vaccination plans. The project will benefit many Lao people, including Lao workers returning to Laos and communities living in high-risk villages across 10 provinces. All actions will be coordinated with local authorities responsible through the COVID-19 Taskforce at the national, provincial and district levels.

Earlier in the week, the CISAC project team also provided the Ministry of Health with 11,214,000 LAK of materials and operational support for their COVID response at the national level. The support provided to the Department of Communicable Disease Control will allow their staff to coordinate the response outbreak both in Vientiane Capital and nationally. The funding included a computer and automatic thermometers devices for members of the COVID Task Force to better support the current outbreak. 

Soumya Guha, the Plan International in Laos Country Director, said at the event that “Civil Society Organisations have been responding to the prevention of COVID since last year, and even more since the first 10 CSOs received funding under the CISAC project in May 2021. This funding will double our efforts and allow more Lao CSOs’ interventions to stop the spread COVID across 10 provinces and the country. This will not only support communities to prevent COVID, but it will focus on reversing some of the negative impacts from COVID, including financial and social burdens on women and girls. These projects will help women, girls and their communities to prevent and recover from COVID-19.”  

In her comments at the signing ceremony, Ms. Baiba Zarina, the acting Charge de Affaires for European Union to Lao stated: “We congratulate the genuine efforts of the Government in collaboration with Development Partners, the private sector, and other stakeholders, to contain the spread of this ongoing wave, while rolling out the vaccination as quickly as possible. I also congratulate the 10 CSOs who got awarded a grant today. I am confident that you will contribute successfully to the fight against COVID19 in Lao PDR and demonstrate that civil society has a very important role in effectively supporting the local authorities and communities.” 

The CISAC project funding is part of the Team Europe response to COVID-19, provided by the European Union. It aims to support the government of Lao PDR to mitigate the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic, and it enhances the effective cooperation with Civil Society Organisations. The funding provided under this project is specific for civil society organisations. The European Union has also launched a project with the Ministry of Health and WHO that includes funding to support the government’s direct response to COVID-19. This is a global effort and the European Union is proud to partner with the Lao government and Lao civil society to reduce the negative impacts from this disease, both health impacts as well as impacts to livelihoods.