Laos Receives Switzerland Delegation During Visits to Development Programs
Ambassador Thomas Greminger, Deputy Director General of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and responsible for the South Cooperation Department visited Laos from 22nd to 27th January 2017. He was accompanied by the Ambassador of Switzerland to Lao PDR, Mr. Ivo Sieber, Mrs. Franziska Freiburghaus, Head of the East Asia Division at SDC, and Mr. Tim Enderlin, Director of the Mekong Region Program.
Ambassador Greminger visited different Swiss projects on Agriculture and Food Security, Local Governance and Citizen Participation as well as Technical Vocational Education and Training in Luang Prabang Province.
Visits to Swiss funded programs included the Northern Agriculture and Forestry College, Lao National Institute of Tourism and Hospitality, projects villages under the Poverty Reduction Fund and The Agro-Biodiversity Initiative.
The mission to Laos was to better understand what the measures the Lao Government is taking to improve opportunities for poor people in areas that continue to lag with regard to access to various types of education, health services and infrastructure, as well as job opportunities and how Switzerland’s programs is helping to improve those conditions.
During a reception in Vientiane, Ambassador Greminger reflected on his visits to SDC projects, “our activities make a difference for the poor groups of the Lao population which we specifically try to reach and which we know are most affected by poverty; people form ethnic minority groups and women”.
He also met with the Governor of Luang Prabang Province and with different Government representatives in Vientiane. Part of the discussions were amongst others joint poverty reduction priorities [include (8th NSEDP, SDG), development effectiveness and the role of civil society and the private sector in the development of the country. Ambassador Greminger reaffirmed Switzerland’s continued support as a development partner of Lao PDR.
Switzerland, through SDC, is supporting 17 bilateral and regional projects in Lao PDR with a total of almost 20 million USD per year. The projects contribute to the efforts of Laos to implement the National Socio-Economic Plan with emphasis on ensuring sustainability, integration into the ASEAN community and ultimately supporting the country’s effort to graduate from the Least Developed Country status.
Laos and Switzerland celebrate a long-lasting partnership since the 1990-ies and will continue to deepen their development cooperation. SDC is currently designing the next strategy for the Swiss cooperation in the Mekong region which covers programs in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam to support their process to “narrow the development gap” to the other ASEAN countries.