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For all but a few, it is early days for Laos’ civil society organizations. Numerous different non-profit organizations (NPOs) are spread over the country to support a wide range of development working areas. But while intentions are good, the capacity of the still young civil society organizations is often rather limited.
The Learning House for Development (LHD) is an organization that brings 40 independent Lao development organizations into contact with each other and reinforces them. This occurs in the Learning House itself, a building where besides housing the 11 staff members, meeting rooms and office spaces are primarily offered to small civil society groups which are just starting out. LHD also aims to spread knowledge within the non-profit sector.
“Before 2010, civil society was extremely splintered in Laos; information was rarely shared. Everyone was just doing their own thing. Now there’s an independent organisation, with 11 people and its own, central office. Oxfam provides us with financial support, but also workshops for improving our impact among local organizations, help with measuring our results and writing reports, and training in financial management." Khouanfa Siriphone, Communication and Outreach Officer for the Learning House for Development. Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam.
Oxfam supports LHD at an institutional and organizational level
In order to enhance the relevance of LHD as a civil-society network Oxfam supports LHD at an institutional and organizational level. We also work to position LHD as a leader in connecting development organisations with each other, with partners and with government organisations, as well as helping LHD to develop an information sharing system and to organize training sessions to familiarise LHD members with this system.
“In through or out the door, left or right corridors, up or down stairs; no matter which way you go, in the Learning House there is knowledge in the air. Financial management knowledge is transferred from one organization to another and experts share legal knowledge among all residents. There is an individual space called ‘nursery’ for each young civil society organization in which they can acquire the knowledge and skills to succeed in their own sectors. Khouanfa Siriphone, Communication and Outreach Officer for the Learning House for Development.” Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam.
Volunteers from all corners of the world
Learning House for Development (LHD) also works with volunteers, from all corners of the world.
"Here I get the chance to come into contact with a great deal of development work: capacity strengthening, financial management, HR, etc. I work 80% of my time here in the house, but also 20% of the time with our various member organisations. I help them write reports, support them with time management or simply lend a hand with the translations." Suzie Fairley volunteers as an Organizational Development Adviser at the Learning House for Development. Photo: Tineke D'haese/Oxfam.