Week 10: “Khop Jai” “Bo Pen Yang”

The Lao saying “bo pen yang” has permeated all aspects of Lao culture. In short, it’s the Lao version of Swahili’s “hakuna matata” or “no worries” in English. But it’s so much more than that.

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Week 9: China China China

As my co-fellows can confirm, multiple times a day I can be heard excitedly gasping then screaming “CHINA!” One of my favorite parts of this summer has been seeing how visible Chinese influence is. After spending 9 months tracking the extent of China’s Belt and Road on AidData’s Transparent Development Funds team, I was well aware of the size and quantity of these investments. But knowing that and seeing the multidimensional physical impact on the urban geography of Laos, are two different things.

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Week 2: Special Economic Zones in Laos Workshop

In my second week of work (sorry for how late this is being written!), I had the opportunity to participate in The Land Information Working Group’s Workshop on Special Economic Zones (SEZs). As the biggest investor in Laos is China, the conference focused on the intersection of investment and development, specifically with China as an example. After spending the past year working on AidData’s Transparent Development Footprint team quantifying the extent of Chinese investment, I was thrilled to hear from such a wide array of people on the subject (conference attendees included academics, government workers, local lawyers (honestly a rarity in Laos), and directors of international NGOs hailing from Laos, the US, Viet Nam, Thailand, Burma / Myanmar, Cambodia, Philippines, France, & Hong Kong).

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Week 8: Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) and Improving Tenure Security for Smallholder Farmers (ITSSF)

Most of my posts for Omprakash (the Global Research Institute platform) and the Freeman Foundation have been reactions and lessons learned from Laos. After two months, it seems appropriate to explain what I’ve been doing at Village Focus International.

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Week 7: A Still War-Torn Country

From 1964-1973, the CIA dropped 270 million sub munitions in over 580,000 bombing campaigns. That’s the equivalent of a bombing mission every 8 minutes 24 hours a day for 9 years. As a result, Laos is the most bombed country per capita in the world ever. While the bombing concluded almost 45 years ago, the impact remains one of Laos’ largest development issues because 30% of these cluster munitions failed to explode, leaving 80 million “bombies” scattered throughout the country. The contaminated area is twice the size of Switzerland.

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