Main content

Lao People’s Democratic Republic Overview

Lao PDR is the smallest and only land-locked nation in South East Asia with an estimated population of 7 million. It neighbours China, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar. Lao PDR boasts great diversity with over 237 ethnic subgroups, although the Government of Laos officially only recognises 49. Lao PDR is also the world’s most-heavily-bombed nation per capita.

Lao PDR comprises 18 provinces and 8651 villages. The country is mountainous and rich with forest. The majority of the population lives in remote rural areas, some of which lack road access. Urbanisation is estimated at 4.9% annually with roughly 38.6% living in urban areas.

There is one political party, the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, and the majority religion is Theravada Buddhism.

The Government of Lao PDR has a complicated relationship with civil society and international development partners. Local Non Profit Associations are not independent, as they are considered government development partners, because they are able to accept foreign aid. As a result of this and other indicators, the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators rank Lao PDR poorly with respect to “Voice and Accountability”, which measures perceptions of citizens’ ability to participate in selecting their government, as well freedoms of expression and association and a free media.

To read more about the outcomes of the context analysis please read the summary.


Based on the context analysis combined with a workshop with the community of stakeholders, the following are the groups Voice will be seeking to support:

  1. People living with disabilities
  2. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans-gender, intersex (LGBTI) people
  3. Indigenous groups and ethnic minorities
  4. Women facing exploitation, abuse and/or violence
  5. Age discriminated vulnerable groups notably the young and elderly

Organisations proposing to work with two or more of the target groups are particularly encouraged to apply as the community of stakeholders recognised a prevalence of overlapping vulnerabilities between and within each of the groups.

On December 23, Oxfam Laos launched Voice nationally. While Voice in Laos is coordinated by the Oxfam country office, at a global level Voice is executed in consortium with Hivos and funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

No person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, sexual orientation, race or other status - should be denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities. Voice will give the people being left behind the opportunity to have a say in the policies that should make this ambition a reality.