HealthEd sponsored a study tour to Vietnam in July for a group of Laos PDR government officials and NGO leaders to exchange experiences on legal and fiscal rules and the development of local NGOs. Feedback from delegates after the eight-day visit indicated that they had learned a great deal about NGO issues and the NGO legal framework. They also gained valuable, practical experience regarding the operation and management of this sector. The study tour was part of a project funded by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation of Japan (SPF).
The delegation of seven members, led by Ambassador Khamphong Phanvongsa, president of the Laos Union of Science and Engineering Associations (LUSEA), included officials from the Public Administration Committee of the Prime Minister's Office, which is working on a draft regulation for Laos NGOs.
In Vietnam, the Laotians met with relevant Vietnamese government officials from the Ministry of Home Affairs (who manage local NGOs), the Commission on Legislative Affairs of the National Assembly, the legal experts of the Government Office and the National Coordinating Committee on Disability, as well as local NGOs and prominent NGO networks such as the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association, the Lawyers Association and the Southeast Asia Research Association of Vietnam. Discussions included: legal frameworks for NGOs, the role of government in managing NGOs, registration and reporting procedures, as well as experiences of local NGOs in internal governance, fundraising and interaction with the government.
HealthEd will work with LUSEA and other local partners to organize a national conference on NGO issues in Vientiane later this year. The program will be aimed at promoting understanding and capacity building for NGOs. In addition, the project will sponsor training programs to improve the capacity of local NGOs in this country.