UN World Food Programme

Small Boats, Shallow Rivers And Big Challenges In Lao PDR

Bouavone Phasouk is head of WFP’s office in Oudomxay, in the north of Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

Bouavone Phasouk runs a WFP office in a remote part of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. She’s the only woman on her team, but doesn’t let that stop her from walking hours through the jungle or driving across dangerous provincial roads to get food to those who need it most.

1) What is your job?
My main responsibilities are supervising WFP programmes in this province. I make sure that the right amount of food gets delivered to the people who depend on it.

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2) What is the hardest thing about your job?
One of the toughest things is going into the field. That often involves walking long distances across remote areas. Once, we had to hike over six hours to reach a village in Parkbeng district. It was the rainy season, so the mosquitos were biting us the whole way, and it was hard to keep up.

3) What did you do before joining WFP?
I worked as a trainer for five years on a microfinance project funded by United Nation Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). I delivered training on microfinance to villagers and partners such as Lao Women’s Union and the Agriculture Promotion Bank.

4) What’s your most moving experience with WFP?
Once, we urgently needed to transport food from our warehouse to three different villages in a remote part of the country. It took us two days to deliver the food to each village. We spent one day moving the food from our warehouse to the port, then another day shipping the food by boat to reach the villages. The river was quite shallow and the boats were very small, so it couldn’t carry very much. Sometimes, we had to get out of the put and push it up the river. It took us a week before we’d finished delivering all of the food.

5) What was your most difficult mission?
It was in 2009, when I travelled to Saravan province to help a group of villages how to help us run the school meals programme. It took us 12 hours to travel 84 km from Saravan to Taoy, because the road conditions were so bad. We eventually got to the region and showed 20 different villages how to prepare the school meals for their children and how to store the food properly.

6) What is a humanitarian?  
A humanitarian is a person who helps other peoples in need without expecting anything back in return. They take pride in assisting people who need help.

7) Are you one?
Yes, I am one of the humanitarians in this world. I am very happy to work for 10 years with WFP by helping pregnant women, children and poor people in Lao PDR. I will continue to put my energy and effort to work in my field.