Laos: More than 84,000 people driven into poverty due to pandemic

  • Laos
  • Friday, 28 May 2021

VIENTIANE, May 28 (Vientiane Times/ANN): Statistics indicate that 84,418 people are unemployed and suffering severe financial hardship across the country as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, including many who have been laid off from jobs in other countries.

The figures were obtained by village authorities after they surveyed poor and lower-income households in an attempt to assess the number of people in urgent need of government assistance.

The surveys were carried out from May 5 to 15 and the results will be used by the government to draw up measures to help those in need.

An official from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the lockdown of towns and businesses and travel restrictions were closely linked to rising poverty and food shortages.

Based on the information collected in the surveys, the ministry will submit a proposal to the government concerning viable forms of assistance for impoverished households. If the proposal is approved, the prime minister will issue a decree to put the plan into practice.

Assistance is essential to ease people’s hardships amid the restrictions placed on travel, employment and economic activities, the official said.

Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Mr Padeumphone Sonthany told reporters that after receiving information about the number of people affected in each province and Vientiane, the government will consider emergency and primary levels of assistance.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare will provide food and funds as approved by the government for each province and Vientiane.

A senior official from Vientiane’s Xaysettha district said that because of the pandemic, many poor people were unemployed but were ineligible for government subsidies.

Most of those suffering deprivation live in Vientiane, followed by Champassak, Bokeo, Oudomxay, Attapeu and Xekong provinces.

So far, about 1,216 families in Vientiane have been classified as poor with 30,698 individuals unemployed across the capital’s nine districts.

In Champassak, 2,472 families have been classified as poor, comprising 9,934 unemployed individuals in the province’s nine districts.

In Bokeo, 1,528 families have been classified as poor, with 6,213 family members unemployed in the province’s five districts.

In Oudomxay, 3,133 families have been classified as poor, comprising 11,753 unemployed people across the province’s seven districts. In Attapeu, 780 families have been classified as poor and have 3,168 unemployed family members in the province’s five districts.

In Xekong, 171 families have been classified as poor, comprising 2,693 unemployed people across the province’s four districts. Assessments carried out in the remaining 12 provinces among families and lower-income households that have been further impoverished as a result of the pandemic indicate lower levels of poverty. - Vientiane Times/ANN

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