Drug Demand Reduction and Poverty Alleviation for Ethnic Minorities (DDRPAEM)
Background: From 1993-2004 NCA was the executing agency for a tripartite project for the Lao Commission for Drug Control (LCDC)/United Nations Office for Drug and Crime (UNODC)/Norwegian Church Aid in M Long. Its objectives were: to reduce/eradicate opium poppy cultivation, to reduce opium addiction, and to improve of livelihoods systems alternatives, education, health, water and sanitation. Since 2002 NCA has considered it as one Project with different phases. The first phase of the Project was called Drug Demand Reduction and Supply Reduction in Northwestern Laos; and the second phase started in 2002-2005, referred to as the Long Alternative Development Project (LADP), was completed in December 2004 as the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs funding came to an end and implementation in the first and second phase target villages was completed. Due to the relative short period for achieving objectives set forth in LADP and the precarious livelihood situation in the area after opium eradication took place in 2003/2004 and 2004/2005, NCA decided to allocate its own funding for another three-year project so it designed and implemented its Drug Demand Reduction and Poverty Alleviation for Ethnic Minorities (DDRPAEM) Project (Phase III) extending from 2005-2007. DDRPAEM Phase III development objective was to ensure food security and improve family income for target villages. Purpose/ Objective: The purpose of the evaluation has been to assess to which extent the project has achieved its objectives and outputs and lead to the desired impacts. It has further assed the appropriateness, effectiveness and efficiency of the strategies and methods in the project, use of recourses, the project organizational and management set up and the mode of cooperation with the partners. Methodology:The Project has generated considerable reports including much secondary data as seen in the electronic references (Appendix I). The main types of data generated by the Project are from two socio-economic surveys (2003 and 2007). The primary data gathered by the team are both qualitative and quantitative data. The reliability of this data is as good as the memories of the respondents. In the case of the Akha and Lahu villagers, the information obtained very much depended upon how well we could communicate our questions. However, this only illustrates the differences in world views expressed in the Lao language versus world views and subsequent language of the Akha and Lahu villagers. Key Findings: In short, the key features of the Project strategy in Phase III has been partnership and approach. There has been a three-way partnership in the Project between NCA, district government, and villages. The approach has stressed participatory planning, reporting and evaluation by the three actors. The key to this is the village level, where it all began with a participatory village plan (PVP). Thus, a priority has been given to strengthening the village development committee (VDC). Concurrently, it has strengthened community leadership and management skills, meanwhile assisting them with their problem-solving skills. The result has been an attempt to undertake community participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation [PME]. At the same time district level organization, management and human resource development capacity is being strengthened through Project activities and processes. • For indebt key findings from the project please see chapter 9 in the evaluation. Overall Recommendations:These recommendations are general in nature and both related to the Project and district offices involved in implementing the Project. • Planning is extremely important since it begins with the PVP and has been quite successful:Improvement of the Project planning system which assuring of the integration & ownership of district agencies concern is highly recommended to be considered. The planning process should be made in a way that district agencies see the Project’s activities fit into the government plan, and concurrently both the Project and agencies concern share common responsibility for the success or failure of that plan. The shared ownership of activities needs to be reviewed to assure the ownership of the concerned agencies district and province.• The GOL fiscal year (FY) extends from October of one year through September of the following year. If we really want to mesh with GOL agencies, we have to do this:It is highly recommended that the Project get into synch with the GOL fiscal year beginning with FY08(October 08 – September 09).• Roads were mentioned by all villages as one of the most important contributions of the Project:The roads network must have full participation of communities and relevant district offices to maintain them. The communications office must put proper funds into their maintenance budget earmarked for these roads beginning in FY09 (October 08 – September 09).• The Project target area is comprised of mostly Akha peoples with some Lahu Shii. Very few of them speak the Lao language very well. These Tibeto-Burman cultures are very distinct with unique customs and rituals. Few outsiders speak their languages with any degree of fluency:All sectors must try to recruit and hire capable Akha for working in these and other Akha areas in M Long.• The Project should continue to support Akha (and Lahu) young people in furthering their education and training in order to return to help in the development of their home areas:Akha and Lahu cultural orientation should be given to all Project and GOL staff working in the area.Project activities must always be cognizant of villager’s calendars which relate to their livelihoods and culture. If these are not heeded activities will never be very successful nor show much ownership.• There are an increasing number of Chinese companies in Luang Nam Tha concerning agriculture (eg, sugar cane,watermelon, rubber, bananas). These could be possible threats for: 1) unfair business practices cheating farmers; 2) human trafficking; 3) out-migration, and 4) increasing demands farm households on GOL district and provincial agencies to assist them:It is recommended that the Project take serious attention on this situation and undertake studies of how to best assist.• Since field staff interacts with villagers on a daily basis, they need proper equipment and supplies to d their dailyjobs:The team would like to wholeheartedly recommend the purchase of certain pieces of equipment to be located in each of the substations and perhaps at the Project office, eg, GPS, and laptop computer sets.