In February 2023, we conducted a field trip to the four target villages within the Thaphaibanh village cluster that we support as part of our community sustainable livelihoods program we launched in 2020 for PHASE 1-three-year period (2020-2022). Our visit to the villages marked the closure of Phase 1 and announcement to the communities of PHASE 2-three-year period (2023-2025).
As part of these official village visits, we handed-over to each village a “Village Handicraft Fund” based on the added value benefits made from the sales of their handicrafts (this, in addition to the direct purchase from each individual crafter of their handicraft items) over the period 2020-2022. Overall, during the PHASE 1-period, for the 4 villages combined, we handed-over 57,625,000.00 LAK (~3420.00 USD) allocated to the “Village Handicraft Fund“. These funds will be managed and used by villagers to invest in private handicraft/natural products businesses (following agreements among the community for funds management, which provide a community-based decision making).
The meetings and hand-over ceremonies in the villages were attended by the vice-governor of Nakai District and District head for the Thaphaibanh village cluster (Mr. Sengkeo), the head of the Thaphaibanh village cluster for Nakai-Nam Theun National Park (Mr. Bounchanh), the Anoulak team (Lampheuy, Laythong, Camille), the project’s village facilitators, the village authorities (village chiefs, village development fund committee), and the villagers/crafters (totaling 107 participants [51 women]).
In 2023-2025, our Resilient Communities for Healthy Natural Ecosystems in the Annamites Mountains of Laos (PHASE 2) has the following two Objectives, in follow-up to the first phase of the program:
Objective 1: Development and implementation of bottom-up Non-Timber Forest Products production business enterprises, at the individual and/or village level in Thaphaibanh cluster (4 villages).
Objective 2: Natural Resources Management Plan for sustainable management and conservation of forests, at the family level, village level and cluster level in Thaphaibanh cluster (4 villages).
Our overall program’s aims are:
All the activities are based in Thaphaibanh village cluster (one of the three village clusters within the Nakai – Nam Theun National Park), where villagers are the most reliant on natural resources for their daily livelihoods. Villagers from this cluster have also been identified as the most vulnerable in terms of food security and income. Thaphaibanh village cluster includes 4 villages (further divided into nine hamlets), 520 households and >1200 people.