We began funding research in Laos in the late 1980s. Following decades of conflict, the country faced widespread poverty, linguistic isolation, and the exodus of its most educated citizens.

Our support responded to these challenges. For example, community-led research on poverty enabled the government to target its poverty alleviation and development programs more effectively. We’ve also encouraged many communities to use natural resources more sustainably, and helped connect the country to the Internet.

Better research on forest and land use

With a rural population depending heavily on natural resources for its subsistence, Laos needed solutions to forest overexploitation and conflicting demands for land. From 1999 to 2007, we helped Canada’s York University and the National University of Laos collaborate to build local capabilities to generate solutions. The initiative developed research skills in writing, data collection and analysis, and offered small research grants.

As a result, local university researchers studied the effects of a new protected forest area on livelihoods in Savannakhet Province, and the Song River’s impact on health in two villages in Vientiane Province. The faculty’s teaching tools and methods also improved, as did the university’s administrative skills.

Breaking the country’s isolation

For over a decade, we supported the country’s leapfrog into the information age. In the mid-1990s, local staff at the Science, Technology and Environment Agency received training to launch the country’s first email service. In 2002, they extended full Internet connectivity and training to provincial governments and the National University of Laos. A joint initiative also created a telecentre in the northern city of Luang Prabang, which introduced Internet services to rural people.
 

Total IDRC Support

51 activities worth CA$7 million since 1987

CIAT/N.PALMER

Our support helps

  • Lao speakers access the Internet
  • migrant women protect their health
  • the Government of Laos improve trade negotiations
  • leaders develop sound transportation policies

Projects