Public Information and Awareness Services for Vulnerable Communities in Lao PDR (PIASVC) Project Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony

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Vientiane Capital witnessed a momentous occasion on the 1st of November 2023 as key stakeholders convened for the signing ceremony of the Public Information and Awareness Services for Vulnerable Communities in Lao PDR Agreement. This important agreement formalizes a long-awaited partnership between the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and Helvetas Laos.

The Public Information and Awareness Services for Vulnerable Communities in Lao PDR (PIASVC) project is funded by the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF) and administered by the World Bank (WB), with co-financing from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It will be implemented by Helvetas Laos with support of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MoNRE) and the Department of Land (DOL).

The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Mr. Virana Sonnasinh, Director General of the Department of Land at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and Mr. Jesper Lauridsen, Helvetas Laos Country Director. The signing was attended by key representatives from various ministries, including Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Home Affairs, Lao Front for National Development, Lao Women’s Union and by the Heads of the six PIASVC Civil Society Organization (CSO) sub-grantees as well as by the World Bank, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and Helvetas Laos. This ceremony precedes the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Lao PDR, set to be celebrated on the evening of the 2nd of November.

PIASVC aims to improve public access to and knowledge on natural resource related legislation, by providing awareness-raising and enhanced legal counseling services to vulnerable communities in five provinces, with approaches tailored to their unique conditions, and with a strong focus on women and members of ethnic groups. The project is a capacity development project working through six CSOs who will receive capacity building and serve as multipliers, subsequently cascading training at village level. PIASVC sub-grantee organizations will be, together with their government partners, focusing on strengthening capacity of village level structures (e.g., Village Mediation Committees, village facilitators, legal volunteers) enabling them to provide effective and impactful service delivery for the benefit of local populations. It uses a bottom-up approach and will focus on access to awareness services and information as well as on legal counselling services for vulnerable communities in rural Lao PDR.

The PIASVC project is in line with the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan and Vision 2030. It also specifically aligns with the Resolution of the Party’s Central Committee on the Enhancement of Land Management and Development, which highlights the challenges of the current land management system. The resolution emphasizes the importance of land management in the nation’s development as a huge source of capital and an indispensable factor in the development of the social economy in a sustainable and innovative way. Furthermore, it recognizes land as a vital source of livelihood for all Lao citizens.

The PIASVC project also complements the Enhancing Systematic Land Registration (ESLR) Project – which aims to improve tenure security and land administration services. It is being implemented simultaneously by MoNRE with funding from the World Bank and the SDC.

Attendees at the signing celebrated the official start of the project, reviewed the project objectives, and renewed a joint commitment to work together on next steps in implementation.

For media inquiries and more information, please contact:

Brooke Bush, PIASVC Project Manager, brooke.bush@helvetas.org