The ARMI takes coordination and participation seriously, consequently, we have joined a number of networks both domestically and internationally to facilitate the flow of expertise and information for organizational use.
The Lao CSO Coordination Office (LCCO) is a coordination office for non-profit Lao social organizations focusing on coordination and information exchange between members across the country, the government, and regional and international development partners. The Association for Rural Mobilization and Improvement (ARMI) is one of the Lao CSO Coordination Committees (LCCC) that has actively participated and contributed to all the work in the network mechanism in all 7 sectors: 1) good governance; 2) agriculture, forestry, and rural development; 3) education and sports; 4) public affairs; 5) environment; 6) labor, disability, and social protection; and 7) economy, information, culture, and tourism.
The ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN Peoples Forum, or ACSC/APF is an annual meeting that is a platform for exchanging, sharing experiences, and discussing various issues related to achieving the United Nations goals for development in conjunction with the implementation of international declarations and ASEAN cooperation agreements among the civil society organizations (CSOs) in ASEAN countries. The Association for Rural Mobilisation and Improvement (ARMI) has been selected as one of the Steering Committees of the Lao Social Organization or the Steering Committee of the ASEAN People’s Conference, or ACSC/APF, to participate in the conference. We also contributed to our work as a secretariat by facilitating and preparing for delegations from Lao civil society organizations to attend the ACSC/APF meeting every year. And in 2022, when Cambodia was a host for the aforementioned forum in Phnom Penh, the ARMI and other CSO delegates from Lao PDR also gradually participated.
The Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance in Lao PDR, also known as SUN CSA Laos, is a coalition of 60 social organizations in Lao PDR that support the government’s initiatives to improve nutrition work and the nutritional status of Lao PDR residents, particularly women and children, during the first 1000 days. ARMI became a member in 2017. Since joining SUN CSA Laos, we have actively engaged in meetings, shared knowledge, and brought a variety of lessons to utilize and implement in the association’s nutrition work. In addition, ARMI served as one of the administrative committees of the SUN CSA Lao network in 2022, as well as one of the provincial coordinating committees for nutrition work in the Savannakhet province.
The Agroecology Learning Alliance in Southeast Asia (ALiSEA) is a regional platform that emerged during the ACTAE project towards an agroecological transition in Southeast Asia and is coordinated by the CIRAD organization, which is responsible for all of the Network of Conservation Agriculture in Southeast Asia’s (CANSEA) projects. The fundamental goal of ALiSEA is to exchange information and experiences regarding agro-ecology. As a new member of the ALiSEA network, the ARMI actively participated in the conference to share thoughts on the range of themes that were invited.
Lao Civil Society Organization Forestry Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (Lao CSO FLEGT) is a group of Lao civil society organizations that have contributed to the process of joining the Voluntary Trade Agreement with the European Union (VPA). The goal of CSO FLEGT Laos is to participate and contribute effectively to the process of VPA/FLEGT between the government of Laos and Europe, ensuring that the communities that rely on forests can access, use, manage, protect, and develop forests in a fair and sustainable way. The program that implements the forest law, management, and timber trade is based on the letter of approval from Forest Law No. 1278/MAF, dated September 23, 2015. The ARMI has been a member of the CSO FLEGT Lao network since 2015. More importantly, in 2019, it was selected to be one of the members of the network’s steering committee. In the past, we have regularly participated in activities and meetings of the network, contributed to the FLEGT-VPA work, and participated in the process of obtaining legal timber definitions (TLDs); participated in the technical working group for community or village forestry; created and managed online social media (Facebook and YouTube); designed and produced print media and advertising materials for the network, such as brochures, posters, t-shirts, and websites; and contributed to the technical working group for community or village forestry.
Read more about the network at the link below:
Gender Equality: The ARMI considers the roles of women and men as the main heart of development. We believe that women and men have equal rights at all levels, which can be seen in every work and activity in each area, especially the leadership, regardless of the groups, which must have women at all levels in order to open up opportunities and promote women to play a leadership role and contribute fully. Implementation of family-level activities. We additionally encourage women to speak up, offer opinions, and make decisions alongside men.
ARMI is one of the organizations that make up the Women’s Role Development Association, a group that works to advance women. Additionally, we serve on the management board of the SUNCSA Nutrition Network, which emphasizes the integration of gender roles in nutrition work, particularly for women in rural areas who lack access to information about hygiene, childrearing (children under 1,000 days), or having an opportunity to attend school. Therefore, we have emphasized this issue in particular: building capacity and strength for women to have the right to learn and access good nutrition, encouraging pregnant women to go to the hospital, feed their children properly, eat food according to hygiene standards, etc.
Particularly in the association, there are women in all fields of work at all levels, including the management board, the president, the inspection committee, and the members of the association. By the end of 2022, our organization will have 42% female members, and our staff members are actively taking part in training and developing their skills to increase their grasp of gender awareness and strengthen their knowledge of gender. In the future, we will raise the role of women and men to a higher level by integrating this work to reach more people in all fields of work.
Empowerment of people with disabilities
Empowerment of people with disabilities: working on promoting the participation of people with disabilities is considered a new work for ARMI, which started to be implemented 2-3 years ago. To improve the quality of life of people with disabilities in rural areas, especially those who have a hard time obtaining services and integrating into the community where they live, we have paid attention to and placed priority on their work. Therefore, we have included the work of disabled people in the association’s 5-year strategic plan (2021–2025). In previous years, we have enhanced and supported disabled people in many cases, such as by promoting income-generating activities such as animal husbandry, barbershops, grocery stores, etc. so that they can have a career and can earn money for themselves and their families. Importantly, we also support people with disabilities to access services, send them to functional rehabilitation centers, and provide equipment and tools to facilitate their daily lives more comfortably. Additionally, advocate legal literacy so that people are aware of and understand the rights and equality of those with disabilities, to create awareness about disabilities for the community, and to promote people with disabilities to live in society normally by participating in society equally.
In the future, we will raise awareness of people with disabilities to a higher level by passing on knowledge and spreading the role of people with disabilities to other associations, this is not to be considered the work of any individual or any association, but it’s the duty of everyone in society to comply with the words of the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, that “Leave no one behind”. The association has always offered opportunities for people with disabilities to join and work in the association and has adjusted its policies to suit them. Currently, we have 4 disabled staff members (1 female), one of whom is an IT employee who is visually impaired. In the future, we will open up more opportunities for people with disabilities to work with us.
Climate change is an issue that the world gives importance to, and we have given importance to this work because it is related to the lives of the people in the community, especially farming and animal husbandry, so that they can adapt to climate change and prepare to deal with various natural disasters.
Additionally, some of our staff members have taken part in training to increase their capacity in the area of climate change, particularly with regard to methods of production that use little space but produce a lot of crops, as well as identifying good cultivars that can be grown all year round. We have also provided knowledge on handling natural disasters, especially in flood-prone areas, established village-level committees on natural disaster management, and trained them on how to prevent and reduce damage.
Additionally, we have been urging them to create village conservation areas and protected areas so they can utilize natural resources responsibly. At the same time, we also encourage people to use more cookstoves in order to limit the usage of natural fertilizers from deforestation and prevent ecological system disruption by publishing and advertising in various villages in remote community areas that are still dependent on deforestation as a means of doing daily activities. In the future, we will continue to expand this work to more rural areas.