Located in Southeast Asia, the scenic country of Laos is home to 150 colorful ethnic groups, many who still follow ancient tribal traditions as they make their living off the land in the mountainous regions of the country. With sparse population and few natural resources Laos has not had the ability to adequately serve the ethnic groups living in the remote villages of the country.
The second poorest country in the region, Laos has high levels of malnutrition, inadequate sanitation and limited access to safe water. Many of the ethnic groups continue to practice slash and burn methods of agriculture on the steep slopes around their villages. Traditional crops, supplemented by the food they can collect from the jungle provides sustenance but not always balanced nutrition, especially for growing children.
ADRA Canada has been working in Laos since 1994, helping ethnic minority groups develop gravity-fed water systems and build latrines. As they built trust and relationship with the people they began conducting health education and income generation programs.
The current program that ADRA Canada is running in Laos is with the Khmu ethnic group in the Houn District of the Oudomxay Province. 1300 households in 10 different communities have been targeted. It is estimated that in this region of Laos 50% of the children under five are stunted because of malnutrition. Infant mortality rates have been three times higher than in the urban areas of the country. Nutrition education, kitchen gardens, and cooking classes have improved the health of everyone in the village and saved the lives of many children.
To Learn more about the work of ADRA Canada in Laos, check out the following stories and video reports: