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Laos has been a Luxembourg Development Coop­eration partner country since 1997 and aspires to become a “middle-income country” by 2024.

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Luxembourg opened an embassy in Vientiane in February 2016. A general framework for our development cooperation relations was established in Vientiane in 2000 with the signing of a general cooperation agreement. The first Indicative Cooperation Programme (ICP), with a budget of EUR 18 million, was signed in 2003.

Early 2022 continued to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the majority of countries had reduced restrictions linked to the pandemic, Laos was still seriously affected by the virus, with peaks in new infections between January and April 2022. At the beginning of May 2022, the government gave in to the pressure of the population in the face of the socio-economic crisis, caused by the hermetic closure of the country for over two years, and reopened the borders.

Faced with the health situation at the beginning of the year, Luxembourg decided to continue its assistance to local health authorities and increased its budget for support to the Ministry of Health for combating the spread of COVID-19. An amount of EUR 475 000 has thus been allocated to the acquisition and distribution of medical supplies and consumables for the prevention and control of infections in three of our intervention provinces (Vientiane, Bolikhamxay and Khammouane).

The Luxembourg Development Cooperation’s activities resumed their usual pace from the second half of 2022. At the same time, from the beginning of 2022, the mission to formulate the new projects for the new five-year programme in Laos took place. In July 2021 the fifth ICP was signed. It has a funding envelope of EUR 95 million and covers the 2023-2027 period.

This process has resulted in four new bilateral projects in the same sectors, including the priority sectors of health, vocational training, local development and the promotion of the rule of law, good governance and access to justice, all of which were approved by the governments of Laos and Luxembourg in December 2022. For the new phase of the project in the higher education sector, it is key to note the participation and co-financing from the Swiss cooperation agency and the European Union (EU). The Swiss cooperation agency will also contribute to the financing of the local development programme under the new ICP V.

The health project will prioritise strengthening health systems with a greater focus on nutrition and including complementary measures in cardiology, while exploring the option of trilateral cooperation with Mongolia in the cardiovascular sector. There are also plans for a smaller-scale extension of activities to the province of Bokeo in close collaboration with the local development programme and the United Nations Joint Programme (UNJP). The professional skills project will no longer focus only on the tourism and hospitality sector, but also on the agriculture and forestry sectors, which should be brought into line with the local development programme. The local development sector will provide annual funding for districts to implement priority actions in the areas of water, sanitation and hygiene, education and feeder roads, in line with district development plans. Concerning higher education in law, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation is also supporting a collaboration between the University of Luxembourg and the National University of Laos, including regular exchanges of students and members of both universities. This project also includes support for the development of the capacities of legal practitioners (judges, prosecutors, lawyers, police officers and inspectors from the anti-corruption agency) through forums organised by the Institute for Legal Support and Technical Assistance (ILSTA). Another new area of engagement is the work with the Lao prison system to improve detention conditions.

It should also be noted that the EU and Switzerland will participate in the financing of the ICP V programmes, with support from the EU for the vocational training programme, while Switzerland will participate in that programme as well as in the local development programme.

December 2022 also saw the very first visit of H.R.H. the Grand Duke, accompanied by Minister Fayot, to Laos, to celebrate the 25th year of diplomatic and development cooperation relations. During this historic visit, the Grand Duke had a discussion with Thongloun Sisoulith, President of the Republic, while Minister Fayot talked with Prime Minister Phankham Viphavanh. Franz Fayot also signed four bilateral and trilateral (Luxembourg, Switzerland and Laos) agreements, so that the four main programmes in the ICP V could begin in 2023. The delegation visited several projects by the Luxembourg Development Cooperation, such as the faculty of law, the Marie Therèse Hospital and the nurses’ training school in the province of Vientiane, the Pasteur Institute of Laos, the Lao-Luxembourg Heart Centre set up by the NGO Aide au développement de la santé, the Academy, which is the training centre in hospitality and catering in Vang Vieng, and the centre for information on unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) in Luang Prabang. The delegation also met NGOs and the Luxembourgish community in Laos.

In addition, the 14th Laos-Luxembourg partnership committee meeting was held in Luxembourg in October 2022, led by Khamjane Vongphosy, the Lao Minister for Planning and Investment.

In December 2022, a new partnership was concluded with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Laos to contribute to the mine clearance of UXO, remnants of the second Indochina War. This contribution, with a budget of EUR 1 million for the 2022-2024 period, will be implemented in close collaboration with the Luxembourg Development Cooperation local development project in the province of Khammouane.

Several other complementary bilateral initiatives in the area of health are supported by the Luxembourg Development Cooperation. Thus, through the PaReCIDS project (Partnership for Research and Capacity Building in Infectious Disease Surveillance), currently in its third phase and implemented by the Luxembourg Institute of Health and the Pasteur Institute of Laos, a Lao-Luxembourg laboratory has been set up within the Pasteur Institute in Vientiane, focusing on research into viral diseases that can be prevented using vaccines. In addition, the Luxembourgish NGO Aide au Développement de la Santé (ADS) is continuing to work in the field of cardiac surgery. The activities by ADS will form part of the bilateral health project under the current ICP.

In addition, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation has continued its work with five Luxembourgish NGOs in the field of development and humanitarian action: Aide au Développement de la Santé (ADS), Appui au développement autonome (ADA), CARE Luxembourg, Handicap International Luxembourg and Fondation Caritas Luxembourg. Their priority sectors of operation are: medical services, health, rural development, education, vocational training, clearance of land-mines and explosive remnants of war, and food and nutritional security.

Development of PDA

Faced with the food crisis, caused by the socio-economic crisis and exacerbated by high inflation and the devaluation of the local currency, the Luxembourg Development Cooperation allocated a budget of EUR 717 060 to the World Food Programme (WFP) for a new programme of food assistance to vulnerable populations in the northern provinces of Laos.

Reference data

  • Population (MIO): 7,42
  • GNI (per resident): 8.100
  • Human Development Index (HDI): 140/191
  • Life expectancy: 68

Sector breakdown