U.S. Ambassador Speaks to Lao Civil Society Leaders
“I want to see Lao NPAs become sustainable, to build capacity to reduce poverty by cooperating with the government, INGOs [international nongovernmental associations] and other NPAs,” said one NPA leader. “We must find ways to overcome a lack of funding by international donors, low capacity of Lao staff, and poor English language skills.”
At the conclusion of the roundtable, Ambassador Stewart made the Lao NPAs aware of small grant opportunities available through the embassy.
The roundtable discussion was a part of IRI’s program to strengthen Lao civil society which focuses on nonprofit organizational and financial management, grants administration, proposal writing, and monitoring and evaluation. IRI has also developed Lao language manuals on setting up internal accounting systems and grants management and procurement.
In April 2009, the Prime Minister of Laos issued a Decree of Associations, which for the first time codified the registration process for civil society organizations. With NPAs struggling to navigate the cumbersome registration process and now beginning to conduct activities, IRI is providing critical skills training to Laos’ first independent civil society activists to equip them with the tools necessary to catalyze positive grassroots change.