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In 2021, as in the previous year, Laos was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Throughout the year, the near-hermetic closure of Laos’s external borders, imposed in 2020, remained in place. In addition, from April 2021 extra restrictions were imposed, such as the prohibition on travel between provinces or a ban on organising physical events, as well as local ad hoc lockdowns of varying degrees of severity.

Despite these difficulties, in the main Luxembourg Development Cooperation was able to continue with its activities, albeit at a somewhat slower pace. This was achieved through the dedication, flexibility and responsiveness of teams and partners in the field, as well as through the large-scale implementation of technical responses such as video-conferencing. The various components of Luxembourg Development Cooperation, such as the local development programme, the promotion of the rule of law and vocational training, have continued their activities and have adapted them where necessary. Technological tools such as online courses have been used more in view of the strict health measures imposed by the local authorities.

With regard to COVID-19, Luxembourg Development Cooperation was able to mobilise an additional EUR 2.2 million to support the Lao partners. For example, Luxembourg has provided medical freezers to the Pasteur Institute in Laos, helping to address a significant gap in the vaccine system in Laos.

Luxembourg has also provided consumables and protective equipment to the Ministry of Health of Laos, helped increase the virus detection capacity of the Pasteur Institute and has made a financial contribution to the World Food Programme (WFP), which manages some quarantine centres for returning migrants. In addition to the normal activities by Luxembourg Development Cooperation, this support makes Luxembourg one of the largest European donors in terms of its response to COVID-19 in Laos.

In July 2021, at the 13th partnership committee meeting, held virtually, the governments of Laos and Luxembourg signed the fifth Indicative Cooperation Programme (ICP), covering the 2023-2027 period, which has a total budget of EUR 95 million.

The new multiannual programme will cover the same priority areas as the current ICP, namely health, local development, vocational training in the tourism and hospitality sector and the rule of law.

The incorporation of cross-cutting issues such as gender equality, human rights, environmental sustainability and actions to combat climate change are intended to benefit the population of Laos as a whole.

Due to the practical difficulties caused by the pandemic, the 4th ICP was extended until the end of 2022 and the start of the formulation phase of the 5th ICP had to be postponed until January 2022. The extension of ICP IV also resulted in budgetary increases for some bilateral programmes, bringing the total financial envelope for ICP IV to EUR 99.4 million.

In 2021, the LAO/029 – Skills for Tourism programme played a key role in preparing for the economic and tourism reopening of Laos, notably through the LaoSafe campaign. This comprises a set of health and hygiene standards for different sub-sectors of the tourism and hospitality industry.

In the area of health, the partnership between Luxembourg Development Cooperation and Thai Cooperation (TICA), signed in 2020, bore its first fruits in the creation of a virtual campus for the delivery of training by Thai experts for the benefit of their Lao colleagues. This collaboration will be further developed in the years to come.

In 2021, three new bilateral projects between Luxembourg and Lao institutions were launched, financed by Luxembourg Development Cooperation: a new inter-university project between the University of Luxembourg and the Faculty of Law at the National University of Laos, a project to strengthen the capacity of the statistics office of Laos through STATEC and a partnership between the Luxembourg Institute of Health and the Pasteur Institute of Laos. These are all new phases of existing fruitful partnerships.

The Luxembourg Embassy in Vientiane has concluded microprojects with four civil society actors, with a total budget of USD 35 017.

Development of PDA

Reference data

  • Population (MIO): 7,26
  • GNI (per resident): 7.800
  • Human Development Index (HDI): 137/189
  • Life expectancy: 68

Sector breakdown