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Signing Ceremony of the Grant Agreements
Speech by Chong Chi Nai, ADB Country Director, Vientiane, Lao PDR
Excellency Mme. Khempheng Pholsena, Minister to Prime Minister's Office, and Head of Water Resources and Environment Administration
Excellency Dr. Viengthong Siphandone, Vice Minister of Finance
Excellency Mr. Bounchan Sinthavong, Vice Minister of Public Works and Transport
Excellency Mr. Ty Phommasack, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry
Good morning, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is my great pleasure to be here for the signing of three grant agreements with the representative of the Government of Lao PDR. These three grant assistance projects will support the Government in its implementation of the Seventh Socio-economic Development Plan and Country Development Strategy in graduating from least developed country status by 2020.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, ADB has provided $20 million for the GMS Biodiversity Conservation Corridors project, and $1.68 million of the Japan Special Fund for Poverty Reduction from the Government of Japan for for the Rural Access Improvement Project along the East-West Economic Corridor and the Capacity Strengthening for Gender Mainstreaming in the Agriculture Sector.
The first agreement is for the GMS Biodiversity Conservation Corridor Project which is a part of the $69 million regional technical assistance for the GMS Biodiversity Conservation Corridor that covers Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. This grant project is a continued support from the first GMS Biodiversity Conservation Corridor Initiative Project that had been successfully implemented from 2006 to 2009 in providing a model for expanded and sustained local community participation in the conservation and management of biodiversity landscapes and protected forestlands in Cambodia, Lao PDR, People's Republic of China, Thailand and Vietnam,. In Lao PDR, the project will focus on a community-based initiative to sustainably conserve and protect more than 600,000 hectares of forestlands in Champasak, Attapeu and Xekong Provinces benefiting more than 4,000 households.
The second agreement is for a $1.2 million JFPR to support the Project Preparation Technical Assistance (PPTA). The PPTA will finance the design of proposed $20 million grant project which will aim at improving the physical access to the market from rural areas with the province of high agricultural production potential in Savannakhet Province along the East-West Economic Corridor. The road access improvement will reduce transport costs and increase rural mobility resulting in expansion of area under cultivation and the production of agricultural surpluses leading to increased economic growth.
The third agreement is for a $480,000 JFPR for Capacity Development Technical Assistance which will aim at mainstreaming gender consideration in the agriculture sector. We have recognized that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) has actively taken the lead in gender mainstreaming in its operations and development projects. The TA will support human resource and technical capacity for gender-integrated planning, monitoring and evaluation. These initiatives will effectively integrate gender in the plans, programs, and projects of MAF. The project will support the adoption of a gender-sensitive MAF strategy and MAF action plan, including the development of a management information system, through capacity building of MAF provincial planners and staff, the project will pilot a model to integrate gender in plans, and monitoring and evaluation system in nine provinces.
Again, let me express ADB's appreciation to the Government of Lao PDR for our partnership in the environment, infrastructure and agriculture sectors to promote a large scale foreign direct investment and create regional public goods; and also to the Government of Japan for its generous support. ADB looks forward to working with the Government and development partners to successfully implement these projects and continuing our partnership for accelerating the country's development growth and improving the lives of the poor in Lao PDR.