The government of Japan is extending grant assistance to 10 small development projects in Vientiane and six other provinces.
It was revealed that the projects will cost a total of US$703,000 during a signing ceremony held yesterday in Vientiane.
The grant contracts were signed by Lao representatives from the related provinces and the capital and the Ambassador of Japan to Laos Ms Junko Yokota. Witnessing the signing were Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry representative Mr Sitaheng Lasphone and the National Assembly's Former Chairman of the Socio-Cultural Affairs Commission and Former President of the Lao-Japanese Parliamentarian Friendship Association, Mr Phou Lasphone.
As a result of the signing, approximately 1,000 villagers in three villages of Khammuan province and 2,500 villagers in six villages of Xieng Khuang province will acquire clean water supply systems, and two villages in Saravan province will get new health centres.
Through the assistance, a road between Huay Xai village and Oumnamkhong village in Savannakhet province and a cable bridge between Naphieng and Tamsong villages in Huaphan province will be built.
Approximately 3,900 farmers in Namsing village, Luang Namtha province will benefit from a new irrigation facility, while the students and teachers of Tha Ngon Irrigation College in Vientiane will get a new dormitory.
The Japanese grant assistance to Laos comes at a time when Japan is struggling with the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami in the northeast of the country. “Despite the fact Japan is now facing unprecedented difficulties caused by the devastating earthquake and tsunami, development assistance to Laos from the government of Japan will be provided as agreed,” Ms Yokota said.
The projects form part of the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Project (GGP), through which the Japanese government provides grants for small projects costing US$100,000 or less.
According to a document released by the Japanese Embassy to Laos, under the GGP scheme the embassy has so far financed 338 projects proposed by provincial governments in Laos, amounting to approximately US$25 million.
Among the projects, 222 are education-related projects, such as the construction of schools, 72 are health related projects, such as the construction of medical facilities at village and district level, and the other 94 vary from the construction of bridges, irrigation systems and rural roads to the clearance of unexploded ordnance.
The ambassador expressed her confidence the projects will benefit local people by improving livelihoods and contributing to poverty reduction.
According to the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Japan is the highest-ranked development partner, providing development assistance to Laos in the region of US$90 million to US$100 million a year.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment's Department for International Cooperation Acting Director, Ms Sisomboun Ounavong, called on related units to be active in project implementation by ensuring efficiency and transparency to maximise the benefits to local people.
“We, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the Japan Embassy will be waiting to receive good news on the success of project implementation which will then be reported to the Lao and Japanese governments,” said Ms Sisomboun.