New online information platform to support integrated development planning in Lao PDR
Together with the Swiss government, Lao PDR’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and its Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment have jointly launched a new inter-ministerial online information platform under the Lao DECIDE info initiative www.decide.la. The platform integrates and disseminates official data and information from across thematic sectors in an unprecedented level of detail.
It builds on the earlier success of a poverty-mapping project, and resulting Socio-economic Atlas of Lao PDR, as well as digital dissemination of relevant data to a wide range of users. After an initial phase that was implemented jointly by the Lao Statistics Bureau (LSB) and the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), the initiative is now additionally supported by the Ministries of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), Planning and Investment (MPI), and Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), in an effort to integrate thematic information from each sector. The project receives funding from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).
In his opening address, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Phuangparisak Pravongviengkham emphasised the need for better information exchange and integration among government ministries: “The challenges facing [us] are increasingly complex. Such challenges cannot be tackled meaningfully by each [government] sector alone, but require close coordination and exchange across thematic sectors to achieve viable solutions.”
He explained that “the Lao DECIDE info initiative, initially piloted with socio-economic information of the Lao Bureau of Statistics, is rapidly developing into a cross-sectoral platform of the Government of the Lao PDR for information exchange, integration, and analysis on behalf of more informed planning and decision-making.”
At the launching ceremony, the Regional Director of SDC’s Regional Cooperation Office for the Mekong Region, Ms. Ruth Huber, explained that the project evolved based on the need for better information exchange between ministries, and based on the need for improved analytical capacity at different institutions. Ms. Huber said that she feels “encouraged by the fact that several different ministries are now keen to join hands in the Lao DECIDE info initiative in an effort to bring key information bases together, and to develop the government’s institutional capacities for integrated analysis of data to support the country’s development planning.”
The enhanced DECIDE info platform provides easy access to a wide range of development-relevant indicators from various thematic sectors: on the socio-economic conditions of Lao PDR’s population, based on data from the Lao Bureau of Statistics (LSB); on village-level agricultural production patterns, based on data from the recent agricultural census implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; and on large-scale investments in land, based on data from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE).
Discussing the data provided by MoNRE, Dr. Akhom Tounalom, Lao PDR’s Vice Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, stated, “direct private investment in land provides opportunities to a wide range of stakeholders”. However, he cautioned, “investment in land [also] requires careful planning and monitoring of actions and impacts on the part of our government to avoid or mitigate negative impacts on society and the environment.” Expressing his satisfaction that concrete progress in that direction is being made, Dr. Akhom said that he is “excited that MoNRE now has joined hands with other ministries to further data and information sharing in this new cross-sectoral information platform of the DECIDE info initiative.”
The online platform is expected to support knowledge-based decision-making, making development in Lao PDR even more sustainable and equitable.
For more information see www.decide.la.