Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Laos) is situated in Southeast Asia between Vietnam and Thailand. Bombed heavily during the Vietnam War, the country has one of the lowest rates of GDP per capita in the world. Caritas Australia’s programs have a particular focus on empowering Laotian women and supporting marginalised youth and children with a disability.
Why do we work in Laos?
Laos is one of the world’s poorest countries. Laos is ranked 176th out of 228 countries in terms of GDP per capita (World Factbook, 2013); Australia’s GDP per capita is 14 times higher than Laos’s.
Low wealth levels are reflected in the country’s education, health and social services indicators. For example, data from the United Nations indicate that:
- One quarter of Laotian adults cannot read or write.
- Laotians have limited access to good quality health services. As a result, the country's health indicators, such as maternal and infant mortality rates, are high.
- Around one in four Laotians do not have access to clean drinking water.
Our work in Laos
Non-government organisations have traditionally found it difficult to work in Laos, so it was a real highlight for Caritas Australia when we began working there in 2010/11 with local partner organisations that have well-established relationships with the Laos Government.
We are working with three local partners on programs that aim to empower women and support young people. These programs focus on the areas of sustainable livelihoods, disability and protection.
Examples of our work
- Livelihood and business training was provided to over 40 Laotian mothers in 2010/11, helping them pay for their children's education so that they no longer need to beg on the streets.
- Education was provided to around 50 children living with a disability, and workshops were held to support and train parents, carers and teachers of children with a disability.