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Helping Laos' poorest to earn a better living

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Thousands of the poorest families in Laos will be given assistance to generate thriving small businesses and to improve their incomes, under a new $41.5 million rural livelihoods program.

Laos is reducing overall poverty but poor families in rural communities, particularly in remote and difficult-to-access regions, are vulnerable to shocks and crises like natural disasters.

More than 360,000 children under the age of five in Laos - half of the childhood population - are stunted through malnutrition and around 1.8 million people do not have reliable access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food.

This program will increase the economic security and resilience of poor women and men in rural Laos, and help to reduce poverty levels.

Australia will provide around 350,000 people with the help they need to access financial services, including places to save profits and access loans.

The program will expand and strengthen village banks and provide education on savings, loans and avoiding debt traps, as well as work with Lao regulators to make financial services more accessible for the poor.

More than 35,000 of the poorest people in selected communities will receive intensive support packages.

The support will help households meet immediate basic needs, while providing longer-term opportunities to earn income.

Opportunities include the start-up of household businesses like retail shops and food vending.

Assistance packages will provide a cash safety net to households to cover food and basic necessities while their businesses grow.

Business support will involve provision of basic equipment, goods and technical guidance from a community facilitator.

Australia will continue to help clear unexploded ordnance that contaminates more than 800,000 hectares of land and provide rehabilitation services to survivors and other people with disabilities.

Up to 250,000 people in rural communities will have safe agricultural land cleared of unexploded ordnance.

Australia will work with the Government of Laos and other development partners including international non-government organisations to deliver these programs from 2012 to 2016.


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