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21 May 2009

"After this, I quit!" says my colleague Lin, and he is only half joking. He takes the Buddha image that hangs around his neck and raises it to the sky in silent prayer. (..) After an hour or so we reach the MAG team. They have just finished clearing the path we have walked on. It is to be widened into a road big enough for vehicles, to be built by MAG's development partner the World Food Programme.


1 April 2009

The United Nations World Food Programme (WPF) opened on 25 March a new office in Saravane province for southern provinces of Laos. Among the guest at the opening ceremony were Mr. Khamboun Douangpanya, Governor of Saravane province, Mrs. Kharin Manente, Director of the WPF in Vientiane and high ranking officials concern from all departments in the province.


19 March 2009

Despite all the promises of development, and the promotion of other crops such as tea, asparagus and rubber, switching out of poppies had left most farmers in Myanmar and Laos worse off, even before the current global downturn. UNODC and the Laotian government had to appeal to the World Food Programme (WFP) for emergency food aid. More than half the 2,058 villages in the provinces of Phongsaly, Houaphan and Xieng Khouang, most of which had been put under pressure to abandon opium, were short of food. A former WFP representative in Vientiane, Christa Rader, concludes that massive development programmes will be needed to help former opium-growers find other ways of making ends meet.


18 March 2009

The Lao People's Democratic Republic is classified as a Least Developed Country (LDC) and Low Income Food Deficit Country (LIFDC). The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has been successfully running a school feeding program since 2002, in close cooperation with the Lao Ministry of Education. [...] We talk about education and school feeding in the Lao People's Democratic Republic (PDR) with Ms Karin Manente, WFP country director in Vientiane.


5 March 2009

Red and white opium poppies are back in colourful profusion once again, expanding across the mountainous landscapes of northern Laos after several years of intensive poppy eradication. Illicit cultivation is also on the rise in the Shan states of Burma. UN drug officials are alarmed that the effect of the global economic crisis on the value of cash crops is tempting impoverished hill farmers to return to growing the one crop that offers stable financial returns. [...] The wisdom and sustainability of UN's anti-opium strategy has been consistently challenged by NGOs, development workers and academics. Dr David Feingold, an anthropologist and expert on the Akha hill tribe says: "The opium eradication policy in Laos was both poorly conceived and poorly executed." Without viable alternatives, former opium farmers became destitute and dependent on emergency food aid from the UN's World Food Programme (WFP). Given that the UN millennium objectives are all about enhancing food security, the hastily implemented campaign against opium cultivation had achieved just the opposite.