October 19 2022 —the second MoU for the AFoCO regional project entitled: Improved Local Community Livelihoods through Increased Income from Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFP): Modeling Scalable Community-based Enterprises in Asia (AFoCO/035/2022) was signed between the AFoCO Secretariat and Lao PDR, Department of Forestry. The regional project will see 13 member countries cooperating to enhance livelihoods and promote sustainable forest management through the development of community-based NTFP enterprise models (CBNE) and capacity development activities. Viet Nam was the first country to sign the MoU for the implementation of the project in an online signing ceremony.
From Lao PDR, Dr. Oupakone Alounsavath, Deputy Director General of the Department of Forestry and Mr. Phavanah Sombangpheng, the country project manager of the AFoCO regional project and the Acting Director of the Village Forest Management Division, attended the signing ceremony. Both sides exchanged warm welcomes and greetings online before the start of the ceremony.
In his congratulatory remarks, the Vice Executive Director of AFoCO, Mr. Sunpil Jin, emphasized that the project is noteworthy as the first-ever inclusive project of AFoCO, involving all member countries for both on-site and capacity enhancement activities. Likewise, the cooperation of Lao PDR in the current baselining activities of the project is expected to set the direction on the priority NTFP commodity that each country will promote. Dr. Oupakone Alounsavath also expressed appreciation for the assistance provided by the AFoCO Secretariat in the preparation of the MoU and urged further cooperation between Lao PDR and the Secretariat for the successful implementation of the project.
The Regional Project Manager, Dr. Park Jung Hwan, also expressed anticipation for the implementation of this project, as Lao PDR has already proven its capabilities in previous AFoCO projects, two of which are still ongoing. In closing, the signatories looked forward to the regional projects’ first workshop slated to take place in January 2023. The MoU signing ceremony will be preceded by the Project Inception Meeting (PIM) and the 1st Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting to kickstart the implementation of the project in due course officially.
Submitted by Cha Jiyea, Assistant Program Officer