Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources
(ກຸ່ມເຮັດວຽກກ່ຽ່ວກັບບັນຫາການນຳໃຊ້ທີ່ດິນ) ແນ່ໃສ່ສົ່ງເສີ່ມ ຄວາມເຂົ້າໃຈ ແລະຄວາມຮູ້ທ່ວງທັນ ໃນດ້ານ ເສດຖະກິດສັງຄົມ ສິງແວດລອມ ທີ່ກ່ຽວຂອງກັບການນຳໃຊ້ເນື້ອທີ່ດິນ ໃນໂຄງການ ຕ່າງໆ, ໂດຍການເກັບກຳ ແລະ ແຜ່ກະຈາຍ ຂໍ້ມູນ ຂ່າວສານ, ການຊຸກຍູ້ການສົນທະນາປຶກສາຫາລື ແລະ ການຄົ້ນຄວ້າວິໃຈ

Illegal timber trade tops 2014 economic police cases

Vientiane Times, February 17, 2015

Vacancy: LIWG International Coordinator

We are looking for a dynamic and motivated candidate, with an interest in land issues and commitment to social justice.

Location: Based in Vientiane, Lao PDR, with occasional travel to the provinces and abroad.
Contract: 12 months renewable, starting beginning of June 2015.

Public urged to help identify illegal loggers

Vientiane Times, 17 Jan 2015

Accurate information and evidence are essential for bringing to justice illegal loggers and wood traders, and forestry authorities are calling on the public to help in this matter. Deputy Director General of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s Department of Forest Inspection, Mr Paphakone Vongxay, recently called for public support when responding to questions on illegal logging put to the National Assembly through telephone hotline calls.

Don’t build near planned railway: project officials

Vientiane Times, 14 Jan 2015

People living alongside the planned route of the Laos-China railway through Vientiane should not build house extensions or additional property so as to avoid compensation problems. This was the advice given by railway project officials to Donnoun village residents, who raised concerns through the telephone hotline during the recent National Assembly debate session.

“It would be better if local residents refrain from building property anywhere close to the proposed railway as this will create extra complications with regard to the compensation process,” Laos-China Railway Project Manager Dr Koung Souk-aloun said.

Champassak moves towards ‘land as equity’ project model

 

Vientiane Times, 14 Jan 2015

 

Champassak provincial authorities will move to promote investment projects that allow entrepreneurs and villagers to jointly hold shares in the ventures concerned, aiming to promote fairer projects that benefit villagers as well as investors. Importantly, the ‘land-as-equity’ model will see local villagers retain the land ownership rights in the event that the venture falls over.Under this form of the project, local villagers will use their land plots as shares while the investors will provide the funding, technical expertise and marketing.

*Food security project results in improved local livelihoods*

Vientiane Times, 9 Jan 2015

A five-year food security development project which recently ended has built up sustainable ways of making a living for local people in the Nhot-ou district of northern Phongsaly province, officials in charge of the project have concluded. Around 10,000 people in 39 villages have benefited directly from the 1.5 million euro project, which introduced activities to help local people make a living in sustainable ways. Linking Agriculture, Natural Resources Management and Nutrition (LANN), community-based trainings had been organised, according to a press release from the project. The LANN trainings combined with health and sanitation awareness raising campaigns to fight against preventable diseases, latrine construction and interventions in nutrition-sensitive agriculture such as home gardens, fruit trees and fish farming have enabled communities, women in particular, to improve their food security and nutrition strategies.

Houses built in banned areas

Vientiane Times, 05 Jan 2015
Residents of three villages along a road being rebuilt in Xaysettha district, Vientiane, are unhappy that city authorities have banned them from building homes on land alongside the road but some have started building anyway.
 One resident of Dongkhamxang village, who did not wish to be named, told Vientiane Times on Friday that his village is located in an area where construction is banned for 50 metres on either side of the road.
 “We are very surprised that some new three-storey houses are now being built along the side of this road,” he said.
 “How can they go ahead with construction when the authorities have banned it in this area?”
 Some villagers are speculating that these may be relatives of high-ranking officials while others suggest they simply don’t care about the ban.
 City authorities made a survey of the land along the road last April, covering a stretch 11 kilometres long and 50 metres wide on both sides.
 The three villages of Nahai, Dongkhamxang and Xiengda are located along this road in the That Luang marsh area, and houses and commercial property have been built on much of the adjoining land. Last year many villagers were surprised when the Vientiane authorities started to build a concrete road behind That Luang marsh to create a road link into central Vientiane, but were disappointed when they banned people from building houses on their own land.
 Some officials said they were not planning to take the land away from people and were only surveying it to prepare for further development in the area at some point, but the future use of the land remained unclear.
 It would be a great help to the families in the area if the authorities informed them of the true situation, the purpose of the 50 metre protected strips on either side of the road, and how long the authorities will take to develop them as they have said they would.
 Some people say that if the city’s development plans are unclear, restrictions should be cancelled and the land released to local residents so they can improve their living conditions, as the State encourages.
 An official from Xaysettha district Office told Vientiane Times that the prohibition on construction in the three villages was announced by former Vientiane Mayor Mr Soukanh Mahalath and has been effective since April.
 This announcement has not been cancelled so the authorities will not allow anyone to build any more houses or shops.
 Families in these villages are now concerned that the authorities will grab their land and pay them limited compensation so they will be unable to purchase replacement land elsewhere.

Environmental Group Urges Laos to Support Complaint Mechanism

RFA, 31 Dec 2014

An environmental advocacy group has called on the government of Laos to ensure that a Vietnamese state-owned rubber group operating in the country is adhering to the law and upholding the rights of villagers affected by its plantations.
Vietnam Rubber Group (VRG), which is majority owned by the Vietnamese government, agreed in July to set up a system through which it resolves issues raised in citizen’s complaints and inquiries concerning two of its plantations in Champasak and Savannakhet provinces within 30 days.
London-based environmental watchdog Global Witness said an initial investigation indicated that VRG had not yet implemented the complaint mechanism and called on Lao officials to ensure the company follows through on its pledge.
“It doesn’t seem like at the moment that the Lao authorities have thrown their weight behind the mechanism, but that could just be because they don’t know about it or it could be because they have a problem with it,” Josie Cohen, land campaigner for Global Witness, told RFA’s Lao Service.
VRG agreed to establish the complaint mechanism following negotiations with Global Witness, which had found evidence that plantations run by the company’s subsidiaries in Laos and Cambodia were illegally confiscating and allocating land.
The group also cited evidence which suggested VRG had been engaging in illegal logging activities, and had failed to consult with villagers about its operations or offer them adequate compensation for their land.
Previously, VRG had no system in place that would allow affected communities to communicate their concerns over the company’s projects.
“Vietnam Rubber Group has told us that it genuinely wants to resolve the terrible impacts of its plantations and that it has created this mechanism to do so,” Cohen said.
“But as you know, the reality in Laos is that it’s very hard … to go around the authorities at all. So now we need to look at ways to involve the authorities in this initiative, so at the very least they don’t block it, but in best case [scenario] they would support it and support groups to use it.”

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