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Women’s perspectives on integrated approaches for successful PPP: the experience of the Learning Route in Laos PDR

The second edition of the Learning Route  “Pro-Rural Poor Public and Private Partnership in Lao PDR, Best practices and successful strategies in Attapeu Province seen through women’s eyes” ended successfully on the 10th of May.

During the 5 days event the 20 female participants experienced field visits, discussions and analysis sessions that resulted in the development of action plans to improve their communities’ livelihoods through better access to market, stronger and improved group management, and strengthened relations with the private sector.

Every day participants made the Learning Route River wider with their knowledge, expectations, challenges, lessons learned and recommendations. On the last day, new ideas and innovations plans contributed to reach the maximum river’s flow, with many streams getting communities in 5 different districts of Southern Laos.

As Ms. Bouasavanh Homdouangphachanh  (representative for a community association, SNRMPE Project, Salavan province) pointed out “the most significant lesson experienced through the Learning Route is that the development of new business activities goes hand in hand with the improvement of education and the enhancement of gender inclusion at the community level. Sustainable business activities could take place only where there is a well organized community or group, a good management of the environment and the natural resources."

Pro-rural poor public-private partnerships put “People” at the centre of a range of integrated activities for livelihood improvement”

Integrated strategies and approaches to foster pro-poor rural PPP should be drawn on the base of key components. Participants highlighted some of them:

-          Clear organization structure and sharing of roles, responsibilities and rules, and participatory decision making processes complemented by transparent and accountable financial management are key to ensure effective group management.  In this framework, the role of women at both production and decision-making process, should be strengthened.

-          The sharing of a common vision among group members and collective future plans are key for the sustainability of the experience over time

-          The establishment and regular management of a collective fund is indispensable for the development of the group’s activities.

-          The written agreement between farmers, public and private sector is an indispensible asset and it must reflect responsibilities of the various parties.

The role of the public sector goes far beyond the community infrastructure development to access the market. Counting on the trust of the community, local public organizations have the responsibility to support the strengthening of the group developing sustainable dynamics that can ensure benefits for the whole community and guarantee the establishment of a  fair relation with the private sector.

On the other side,  the private sector plays an important role as trainer, introducing the farmers to new effective and efficient techniques that can improve the productivity and preserve natural resources.

-          In order to have fair deals it is important for the farmers to know the overall market context (price and quality standards) of the products they will sell to the private sector

-          Cultural identity should be preserved and valorised. The promotion of handicrafts with a strong cultural identity (such as in the case of the natural dyes fabrics manufactured by the Taliang women) in fact, can generate incomes for the producer. The identification of the source and origin of a product, and its cultural identity, can attract market demand and ensure new incomes.

Based on these learning, participants developed strategic innovation plans focusing on the creation  or the improvement of pro-rural poor PPP at local and regional level.

Each innovation plan creates in its own specific way linkages among key components, such as: community organization’s strengthening, sustainable partnership between public and private sector, diversification of local production and strategies for the improvement or creation of market access for poor rural people.

Here below the list of the proposals, ordered by best rating, following the innovation plan contest. Two additional evaluations will be undertaken by Procasur and the Projects and the four final winners will be communicated by mid June.

1.       Strengthening Taliang’s group structure and internal capacity building to access the market and engagement with private sector (Vangxay village, Sansei Attapeu)

2.       Enhancing community livelihood and income strengthening the knowledge on organic vegetables production and planning (Phonsin community, Savanakhet province)

3.       Enhancing group access to market though spicy souse quality improvement in Salavan province

4.       Improving productivity and quality of asparagus Asparagus plantation from the successful experience of Dakhiet and Mr Phimpsa

5.       Community based knowledge exchange to improve chilli plantation quality (Dongvai comunity, Champasak province)

6.       Development of community based network to  enhance the knowledge and know-how on livestock vaccination (Sekong province)

7.       Strengthening Katua’s community knowledge on coffee marketing and promotion for a better access to the market (Paksong, Champasak province)

8.       Improving organic watermelon plantation in Sansai district, Attapeu province

9.       Community based knowledge exchange and training on natural dying in Xaysetha district, Attapeu province

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Find additional information about the Learning Route here

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