Lao PDR and World Bank Start Initiative to Fight Poverty

The Lao PDR’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has launched a Community Livelihood Enhancement and Resilience (CLEAR) project to improve rural livelihoods and enhance the resilience of villages that are most vulnerable to poverty, climate change, and malnutrition.

Funded by the World Bank and implemented by the government’s Poverty Reduction Fund, the project, known as CLEAR, will work with around 450 rural villages and help about 216,000 people improve their income generating activities and family nutrition.

The project is funded by a US$45 million credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association, or IDA.

“The Poverty Reduction Fund has been leading the Lao PDR’s actions on the ground against poverty for over 20 years, and is evolving into an agency managing several projects”, said Kikeo Singnavong, Vice-Minister of Agriculture and Forestry. The CLEAR initiative uses strategic plans in line with government policy and adapted to the changing rural sector, and welcomes collaboration and partnerships on this new project.”

The Poverty Reduction Fund has implemented three World Bank-financed projects since 2003, and CLEAR builds on this long engagement.

“The Poverty Reduction Fund has a track record of gradual innovation, improving infrastructure for well over 1 million rural people through more than 6,000 small-scale works. By 2020, nearly 10,000 households had invested in new livelihood options through its most recent project.” said Alex Kremer, World Bank Country Manager for the Lao PDR.

“CLEAR will continue its well-established implementation mechanisms, investing in small-scale infrastructure such as access roads and drinking water in remote villages, and emphasizing disaster and climate resilient building standards.”

CLEAR will focus on climate resilience and diversification to improve livelihood sources and diets. The project incorporates lessons learned from Poverty Reduction Fund projects, and from World Bank-financed community livelihood and climate resilience initiatives in the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Kenya.

The CLEAR project is part of the government’s World Bank-supported nutrition convergence program, which works with development partners to improve nutrition and food security through livelihood support, social assistance, improved access to health services, clean water, and sanitation.

The project targets poor and remote districts and villages across the country, continuing the work of the Poverty Reduction Fund in the four northern provinces of Oudomxay, Phongsaly, Huaphan, and Xieng Khuang, while extending activities to three provinces in the south — Saravan, Savannakhet, and Sekong.