The Miao Yao family between 1991 and 1994 in Laos
Between 1991 and 1994, the different communities grouped over a new irrigated scheme in the Nam Ma valley, Long district, where there remained some irrigable land potential. The conditions for success were linked to medical care for the communities for at least three years, with continued training in lowland agricultural practice, water management, irrigation scheme operation and maintenance, establishment of a credit system for the purchase of buffaloes, the strengthening of the district’s veterinary coverage, the introduction of ordinary rice varieties adapted to irrigation and Lao Huay diet and finally and opium detoxification programme.
A second alternative could consist of researching appropriate and productive village land management in mountainous areas, involving new cropping and husbandry techniques. Current processing activities may be developed along with marketing possibility. This programme, to be accepted, adopted, and adaptable, should be carefully monitored on economic and social sides for a minimum of five years in each village concerned. It will certainly require an important development grant and opium detoxification programmes, before active socio-political and operational participation from the ethnic people.
Another possibility to maintain the authenticity of this vulnerable group is to establish a negotiated small-scale ethno-tourism programme in selected villages. This programme could re-activate the traditional behavior and practices of Lao Huay society – bamboo paper, rituals, hand weaving – directed at tourism demand and curiosity. This programme should be carefully monitored in order to avoid further social degradation, and could be defined in a contract agreement.
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