Switzerland Launches 4 year Development Plan for Lao PDR and the Mekong Region

Press releases, 27.04.2022

The Governments of Lao PDR and Switzerland met in Vientiane Capital to launch the new 4-year, Swiss Cooperation Programme in the Mekong Region with a total budget of USD 160 million, highlighted by a signing ceremony of the Lao Upland Rural Advisory Services Project’s third phase.

LURAS phase III signing agreement
LURAS phase III signing agreement at the Mekong Region Cooperation Programme 2022-25 launch. Photo © Toula Hook/SDC

The event was co-chaired by H.E. Dr. Sthabandith Insisienmay, Vice Minister of the Ministry of Planning and Investment and Mr. Jean-François Cuénod, Regional Director of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation for the Mekong Region, with attendance by representatives of all line ministries who are partners in SDC’s development activities.

The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), responsible for coordinating Switzerland’s development and humanitarian aid programs in the country, discussed with the Lao Government strategic poverty reduction activities, good governance, adaptation to climate change, natural resources management and inclusive social and economic development programs planned in the country.

The meeting confirmed the overall orientation and development of the Swiss development program in Lao PDR, its alignment with the 9th National Socioeconomic Development Plan, how it contributes to achieving  the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and the country’s goals to graduate from the UN’s Least Developed Countries status. SDC supports activities in the three main thematic portfolios of governance and citizen participation, climate change and natural resource management, and inclusive economic development. Lao PDR specific projects will absorb approximately USD 60 million of the total budget available.

Vice Minister, Dr. Sthabandith Insisienmay stated, “Lao PDR and Switzerland have been maintaining strong diplomatic relations since 1963 and good bilateral cooperation through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Mekong region, which was opened in Vientiane in 2006. Switzerland supports the development effort in Lao PDR through its international cooperation with the framework of regional program. The Lao Government highly values and appreciates the support and assistance from SDC in various areas for the development of Lao PDR and especially for improving living standards of Lao people and poverty reduction across the country.”

The signing of the bilateral agreement for phase three of the Lao Upland Rural Advisory Services Project will consolidate the project’s achievements, scale up the successful outcomes and ensure sustainability of relevant current activities. The overall goal of the project is to establish an inclusive, resilient farming systems and agri-businesses that are demand-driven and pluralistic systems, involving various service providers including self-determined farmer organisations. This will in turn create fairer and sustainable incomes for the peoples of Laos.

The Government of Switzerland has committed USD 5.2 million to the LURAS Phase III project, until November 2025.

Although this is the last phase of the 12 year project, SDC Mekong Regional Director, Mr. Jean-François Cuénod said, “The project will continue to innovate and test new approaches, especially with regard to climate change, which has become an urgent  priority”, and will continue to “push activities related to Green Extension and Climate Resilient Extension Development”