Development Opportunities in Rural Laos
Kathryn Sweet

Project Advisor
Rural Women’s Project
Family Planning Australia
Vientiane, Lao PDR


The paper explores the development landscape in Lao PDR and the effect of its urban bias on rural communities. It examines the experiences of rural women in particular, and practical strategies to engage with rural women and improve their ability to access more development opportunities. Strategies must address geographical isolation, poor communications links, low levels of formal education and resulting low fluency in Lao language, poor health, high birth and maternal mortality rates, and the daily grind of agricultural subsistence. Examples are taken from the Rural Women’s Project, jointly implemented by Family Planning Australia and the Lao Women’s Union, in Vientiane province and Xaysomboun Special Zone.