The Mok Mai Integrated Development Initiative (MMIDI) was implemented in Lao and Hmong villages in Mok Mai District, Xiengkhuang Province from 2010-2016.
The project goal was to increase resilience and decrease vulnerability to poverty in target rural communities through a comprehensive integrated approach to ground level community development.
In an effort to provide a holistic and sustainable program, MMIDI led a community demand-driven intervention model that enabled the project to tailor activities to the exact needs of each community. The main principle of this programmatic strategy is to place the community first and respond to their needs rather than delivering a ‘cookie-cutter’ pre-determined model. The benefits of this strategy are a high sense of ownership of the process and outcome, empowerment through having a genuine choice and ability to prioritise the assistance that is provided to them and an increase in the sustainability of benefits gained.
The primary sectors were: Primary Health Care (WASH, MCH, Basic Health) and Enhanced Food Security and Management of Natural Resources (Agriculture, animal raising, livelihoods and economic empowerment and NRM of forests and fisheries).
1. Primary Health Care
The Primary Health model implemented is in line with the Lao Ministry of Health Policy on Primary Health Care which identifies water, environment, sanitation, education, communication and health system strengthening as priorities. The project primarily focused on WASH activities however it will also contribute towards supporting the broader primary health needs of the target beneficiaries as it is increasingly being recognised that WASH activities need to be encased in a broader Primary Health Care model in order to be have a positive impact on the health of communities.
WASH – Improved access to water in combination with an intensive health education and promotion campaign prepared families to take action on sanitation matters. Without intensive regular health promotion and follow up, ADRA’s experience is that people will not make the change from open defecation to the use of household sanitary facilities. Once there was sufficient awareness for families to start getting ready to break the faecal–oral cycle of disease, the project used participatory techniques to facilitate each interested family to build a latrine according to their resource base and personal preferences.
The district government’s target was to increase clean water supply to 67% during the project timeframe which required at least 5 Subsidised Community Gravity Flow water-supply Systems (GFS) to be built in the target area. The project facilitated the construction however of 10 GFS units taking water from nearby mountain springs or streams to the communities. Village Water Committees were established and equipped to organise the community operation and maintenance (O&M) of the GFS and monthly water fees are still being collected to ensure economic sustainability. Water treatment (filtration, boiling) awareness was also undertaken during community dialogue and feasibility analysis.
Community promotion and participation activities regarding the prevention and control of health problems also brought about positive behaviour change. The sessions were conducted along with community mobile clinic days. The health behaviours targeted included hand washing at critical times (before food preparation/eating/after using latrine), village cleanliness, use of improved latrine facilities, treatment and storage of drinking water. Children are the most vulnerable to disease but also the most likely to adopt new hygienic behaviour patterns. Therefore, the project focused on health behaviours of children and their caretakers.
2. Enhanced Food Security and Management of Natural Resources
This component enabled target communities to adopt sustainable land-use and farming systems; ensuring sustainable local food security and income generation. It also provided diversified agricultural training techniques to help improve knowledge and abilities in cropping, livestock and Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) for local farmers.
This aspect of the project focused on diversified agricultural production, utilization, and market development principles based on the belief that rural diversification is a process aimed at reducing the risk and vulnerabilities faced by poor rural households. These risks and vulnerabilities were heightened as most of the households were exposed to seasonal and environmental risks because of their reliance on one or two means of food security through shifting cultivation. The project mitigated these risks by thoroughly analysing the local communities to determine what kinds of agriculture systems are suitable in the local context.
Training was provided for the establishment of Farmer Group Enterprises (FGEs) to help aid in the development and sustainability of local markets which helped local value adding processes within the local target villages. Ultimately, through greater collaboration between farmers and producers, the FGEs empowered local producers to not only improve their livelihoods, but to improve the overall agricultural landscape within their communities.
The overall concept of food security and natural resource management thus focused on expanding beyond just reliance on rice and corn, to include production, access to and consumption of a wider range of nutritional food items. The model of offering alternative solutions to shifting cultivation within their village reduced the pressure on an already severely degrading sloping land. MMIDI focused on enhancing the human and physical assets, mainly an increased and diversified consumption pattern, and increased incomes (where available). Animal raising was also requested by the community and cows and small livestock were included.
MMIDI also assisted some communities to graduate as a Model Healthy Village under the Government of Lao’s certification.
In 2015-2016 ADRA collaborated with a group of Australian volunteers who fundraised and contributed 103 million kip towards the mother and children’s extension of a birthing suite and maternity ward for the Mok Mai District Hospital.
- ADRA Australia
- Xiengkhuang Provincial Agriculture and Forestry Department
- Xiengkhuang Provincial Health Office
- Mok Mai District Agriculture and Forestry Department
- Mok Mai District Health Office