Partnership for livelihood support in Saravan Province

Nov 12, 2015

H. E. Madam Bundith Prathoumvanh, Vice President of the Lao Women’s Union and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, Resident Representative of UNDP Lao PDR signing the partnership agreement, with Ambassador Kim Soo-Gwon in the background. UNDP Lao PDR/Somlith Khounpaseuth

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and its partner, the Lao Women’s Union (LWU) signed a letter of agreement for partnership through a new project for local development as part of 6 project countries of the global Sae-ma-ul Initiative. Together with 10 selected villages, UNDP and LWU will work to improve the livelihood of the people in Saravan.

Years of partnership between Lao Women’s Union and UNDP are once again strengthened by signing a letter of agreement for partnership today at the Lao Women’s Union Headquarters in Vientiane with co-chairmanship of H. E. Madam Bundith Prathoumvanh, Vice President of the Lao Women’s Union and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, Resident Representative of UNDP Lao PDR. The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Mr. Kim Soo-Gwon joined the ceremony to congratulate the successful partnership and inception of the project in Lao PDR.  The “Sae-ma-ul Initiative Towards Sustainable and Inclusive New Communities” (ISNC) is a programme which is directly implemented by UNDP.

The project aims to localise the Sustainable Development Goals and translate them in the village level by supporting over 5000 men and women in the villages of Saravan to improve their livelihood until 2017. The platform of the project is inspired by an initiative with the same name, Sae-ma-ul Initiative of the Republic of Korea which helped to bridge the urban-rural gap during Korea’s industrialisation period in the 1970s and 80s. During the 2.5 years of project duration, UNDP will help villagers to take ownership of the development agenda and self-mobilise to build a better future for their village while closely working with the local government and aligning the results with relevant national development policies.

The Lao Women’s Union is the main responsible partner of the project, and will be in charge of village level capacity building and promoting quality results by providing close communication, facilitation and training workshops using their years of experience in championing gender equality and women’s empowerment policy, through many related village empowerment development projects.

At the signing ceremony on 12th November 2015, Madam Bundith Prathoumvanh, Vice President of the Lao Women’s Union opened the event by thanking UNDP and Republic of Korea for the partnership and welcomed the partnership for improving the livelihood of the villagers in the province of Saravan. She continued by introducing the long-standing partnership between UNDP and the Lao Women’s Union and shared the Union’s experience in implementing the Socio-Economic Development Plan of the Lao PDR government, including the Millennium Development Goals. She emphasised that “having focus on multi-layered challenges that women face in everyday life, and also for genuine rural development results to happen, it is important to improve women’s access to health services, education system and income generation modalities.”

UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Kaarina Immonen echoed the importance of focusing on women’s livelihood in the village as it directly impacts the quality and livelihood of the whole family and the village. She explained that the uniqueness of the ISNC project is the focus on people – which is also at the heart of the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals, the new global development agenda. Ms. Immonen provided important messages on “utilising various development cooperation modalities including South-South and Triangular Cooperation, domestic resource mobilisation and community in-kind contributions to deliver development results at the local level to benefit communities.”

H.E. Ambassador Kim Soo-Gwon shared his journey of promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment for development results during his career in diplomacy, especially during his time in New York working at the United Nations representing the Republic of Korea. He was congratulating on UNDP’s partnership with the Lao Women’s Union.“The worst mistake that human beings can make is gender inequality, especially discrimination. Everyone needs to fix this problem now, together, both men and women. It’s that simple – Act now”, Mr. Kim Soo-Gwon concluded.  

The ISNC project will look closely into the Lao government’s experience in sam sang policy (three builds, aiming at decentralisation), take stock of the lessons learned, and benchmark the key important messages when implementing village projects. The project will also try to link with the national nutrition policy and programs to improve people’s quality of life in the village. Most importantly, the project will try to align with the national priorities extensively covered in the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan.

The project will continue until the end of 2017 with allocated resources of USD 1 million through the UNDP-Republic of Korea trust fund, targeting Saravan Province. The high-level event, "A New Rural Development Paradigm and the Inclusive and Sustainable New Communities Model inspired by the Saemaul Undong", marking the global initiative of Sae-ma-ul was held during the United Nations General Assembly in September where H.E., Choummaly Sayasone, the President of Lao PDR gave a keynote speech and officially endorsed the UNDP’s Sae-ma-ul project. 


Ms. Hyunjoo Youn, UNDP Programme Officer, Tel: 021 267 660, Email:

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