MMG LXML Sepon, the gold and copper mine in Savannakhet province, is doubling the number of communities reached by its Village Development Funds initiative. By the end of the year, 29 villages in Vilabouly District will be involved.
Under the scheme, community members are trained to work together to choose and implement their own development projects.
Small grants of up to US $15,000 per year are then provided to fund the projects, which must benefit the whole village.
A variety of projects were funded by the scheme in 2011, ranging from latrines, fish ponds and village meeting houses, to a motor-vehicle free road that provided children with a safe route to school.
The whole process, which is undertaken in close cooperation with the local authorities, is designed to ensure that differing needs within each community are taken into consideration.
The mine’s community development team provides support – such as training in how to implement projects in a transparent and accountable way – but each village is responsible for their own project.
The villages joining the initiative this year have been enthusiastic; many had already heard about the Village Development Funds from neighbouring communities. Up to two thirds of community members have turned out to attend project launch meetings.
The expansion of the scheme is a response both to the expanding footprint of the mine, and to the district’s development priorities.
The Village Development Funds are just one component of the mine’s community development work, which includes support related to livelihoods, water and sanitation, village banking and savings, small enterprise development and improving local infrastructure.
The expectation is that the next set of Village Development Fund projects will be completed by the end of the year.
Community members are being trained to implement projects themselves.
Community members in Ban Padong identified a need for latrines – then built them themselves.