In July of 2015, representatives from WARECOD led a Thaibaan research group from Viet Nam on a study tour of Southern Laos to visit other village research groups. Here are some impressions from the individuals who were part of the trip.
We left Da Nang at 5:00 am on 6 July 2015, heading for Pakse, Laos. Our team included 5 villagers/ researchers from the Mekong Delta of Vietnam and 2 project officers from WARECOD.
After 3 days learning about how Thaibaan research was implemented in Laos, I was deeply interested in their story about ly fishing trap:
In Thakhor village, I had a chance to see the ly at the falls. The ly is a traditional fishing trap that local people have been using for fishing. They are made of wood and bamboo. One ly can be used for 3 years.
As I learned from the Thaibaan research, this fishing trap with a long history is the tool of its kind. It can catch 3-5 tons of fish per year, making an income of 30 million kip for fishers. From February to May, they use lys to catch small fish, and from June to August to catch big fish. Thanks to lys, the life of local people is improved. However, the local government and a major dam investor – Megafirst – do not allow local people to use lys; they argue that lys will catch the big fish that they marked in order to do research on migratory fish. They have agreed to compensate local people a fixed amount of money to abandon the lys. However, since local people have been using lys for decades, if lys are banned, they will not have alternative livelihood activities, and their futures will be uncertain.
Another thing I found interesting was our visit to Khinark village where people produce noodles:
Khinark village has about 20 households that produce noodles and bean sprouts. The Thaibaan research group focused on 16 of them. Villagers, in collaboration with relevant offices, make a clear plan to process wastewater and keep the environment clean. The annual income from selling noodles and bean sprouts can reach 20 to 30 million kip for each household. I was really impressed with the way they arranged noodles on banana leaves – it looked beautiful as a bouquet.
I was, however, concerned about safety of the villagers when they boiled the noodles, because they had to push noodles from two supporting wooden bars into a boiling pot underneath. It looked very dangerous and I think they should find ways to make it less dangerous.
I felt more mature after the trip and have gained more knowledge from Thaibaan research in Laos. I am thankful for the enthusiastic, kind-hearted and friendly Laotian fellows.
Translated by Duong Thu Hang of WARECOD. This study tour was funded by Oxfam Australia in collaboration with the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems.