“I was a national volunteer for the UNDP for a year. Then I worked as a programme manager for nine years for VECO in sustainable agriculture and income generation in Bokeo, supporting Lao upland communities to improve their livelihoods.

Then [after a landmark government decree 115 on Associations  at the end of 2009]  the space for local people to establish civil society organisations really opened up, and I started MHP.

MHP tries to address the gap between rich and poor: we want our poor people to truly be equal citizens in developing our country.

We have 17 staff, with two working on the FLEGT process [in April 2017 the EU and Laos held their first face to face VPA negotiations]. 

We work at a grassroots level in Bokeo [which is around 100km from the China border] which gives us greater impact by being closer to the community. We try to help build the capacity of poor rural people, particularly women, so that they can take control of their destinies in sustainable ways and improve the quality of their lives. 

One way we do this is through the natural forest tea co-operative we founded in 2016. Subsistence farmers are struggling to survive because overseas investors are buying up land and forests for banana plantations – but we found a donor to support villagers to secure tenure to their tea forest, so that it will be protected for future generations. The co-operative is giving meaningful employment to people.

We try to help build the capacity of poor rural people, particularly women, so that they can take control of their destinies in sustainable ways and improve their quality of their lives.

We are also on the committee of the Lao CSO FLEGT network, which is giving civil society the chance to influence forest governance policies for the first time. We are one of the parties helping formulate a new timber legality definition for the country.

We’ve worked with Fern since 2015.

After the Lao government expressed interest in engaging in a VPA process Fern came to Laos to meet local NGOs and explain the VPA and the opportunities for local NGOs to engage in the process, so as to contribute to better policies to protect forests and improve the livelihoods of forest communities. 

The first activity we conducted with support from Fern was the launch of radio programmes in several provinces of Laos to raise awareness on VPA. Then we developed a joint programme together with Fern and four other members of the network, which we are currently implementing. 

Now we are doing research into transparency to bring an informed position from a Lao NGO’s perspective in the VPA discussions. This is a new and very interesting work area for us but also politically quite sensitive. Fern has shared lessons with us on transparency from other VPA countries and provided guidance to develop research questions. 

Our aim is to improve forest governance in Laos. It is a land locked country and 75% of the land is covered with forests. Most poor people depend on forests for their livelihoods. If forest governance is weak, inequalities between rich and poor people will grow.

You are currently offline. Some pages or content may fail to load.