The 5-day Structured Learning Visit on Regional Rural Development Planning for Laos government officials opens on 5 July 2011 at Mekong Institute with 14 senior to middle-level government officials from central and provincial offices of the Department of Planning, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (DoP-MPI). The participants were warmly welcomed by Dr. Suchat Katima, MI Director. Dr. Suchat also expressed his appreciation for the technical and financial support of German Agency for International Development Cooperation (GIZ) and the DoP-MPI for cooperating with MI on this project.
Giving the opening remarks was Ms. Phonevanh Outhavong who is the Deputy Director-General of the Department of Planning, Ministry of Planning and Investment. In her speech, Ms. Outhavong emphasized that the Structured Learning Visit in Thailand would be very useful in the light of changing Lao administrative system. This activity is seen as a valuable undertaking to provide Laos officials tangible experiences on Regional Rural Development Planning. It is hoped that the impressions of the participants will inspire them to come up with a legal framework which allows for a replication of positive lessons in the Lao process of revising its participatory planning guidelines.
This program aims to expose the participants to the planning procedures in Thailand and equip them with knowledge and relevant ideas which can serve as inputs in the design of the new District Socio-Economic Development Plan (DSEDP) in Laos PDR. As such, the program will take the participants to 7 different organizations involved in regional planning and learn about the decentralized national planning system in Thailand, its structures, processes, and effective coordination among involved agencies. The study visit will focus not only on good examples and practices or success factors, but also on the problems, difficulties and challenges faced in setting up the system.