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Europe funding for basic food needs
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EU-funded projects to address basic food needs
 
Vientiane Times, 02 April 2010
 
The European Union (EU), through its Food Security Programme and Food
Facility, has funded 15 projects worth some 17 million euros to
improve food security in Laos.
 
Experts, implementing agencies, government partners and other donors
and agencies met in Vientiane yesterday to discuss the ongoing
initiatives.
 
“Over 500 villages in Lao provinces are expected to benefit from the
projects,” EU Ambassador to Laos David Lipman said at the meeting.
 
Activities in the target villages aim to reduce food insecurity and
poverty at household level by working to improve health and nutrition
status, increase crop production and productivity, boost production
infrastructure and market access, and promote income-generating
activities.
 
According to Mr Lipman, food security is a basic human right and
concerns the capacity to produce, access and use food appropriately.
 
“Many may see it as a problem confined to isolated areas but in
reality widespread poverty makes it an issue in towns as well as the
countryside, and the EU is committed to working with the Lao
authorities in this area,” he said.
 
The EU also plans to fund the Lao National UXO Programme (UXO Lao),
which aims to destroy UXO (unexploded ordnance), reduce the number of
casualties it causes, and increase the amount of land available for
food production and other socio-economic development activities.
 
Unexploded ordnance is a major problem in rural areas of Attapeu,
Borikhamxay, Champassak, Huaphan, Khammuan, Luang Prabang, Luang
Namtha, Phongsaly, Saravan, Savannakhet, Xekong, Vientiane and Xieng
Khuang provinces.
 
Only three provinces in Laos – Bokeo, Oudomxay and Xayaboury – have
less serious UXO problems, Mr Lipman said.
 
Food security has been a very important issue on the Lao government's
agenda for many years, according to Minister of Agriculture and
Forestry Sitaheng Rasphon.
 
Increasing food production comes first and is one of the ministry's
strategic goals, he said at the meeting.
 
“We have achieved significant results because rice production
increased to 3.2 million tonnes in 2009, representing an average of
490kg per person per year,” he said.
 
Food production has increased in the country's 47 poorest districts.
 
“We could say that Laos is producing enough food,” Mr Sitaheng said.
 
“However, we have to look closer at these figures because as an
example, if 73 districts are producing enough food or even a food
surplus, 68 are still producing insufficiently and we know that a
significant number of households still do not have food security.”

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