Sister Villages

In the province of Luang Namtha, in northern Laos, two villages inhabited by the Lahu, one of Laos’ many ethnicities, border on the Nam Ha national park. One of these villages is easily accessible via a road, while the other is located at the top of a mountain, only accessible by foot. This self-sufficient village lives of herding, cultivates rice, chilli, and tea. Drinking water is sourced from a stream, that runs through the valley. During a hike in between the two villages, our guide recounts that the government of Laos is seeking to relocate these remote villages towards the road. This move, is supposed to insure better access to education, as well as to water and the power supply system. While the younger generation is a lot more welcoming of these plans, the older generation encounters it with scepticism. They fear that with the relocation, their proximity to these public services could increase fees and taxes and thus the need to take up jobs, that threaten their self-sufficiency and thus their traditional lifestyle. Consequently, the move could result in poverty for the villagers. The village split up amidst these plans of resettlement, so that now only one settlement exists near the road. However, both parts of the village continue to work closely together. As, for example, the relocated villagers bring their livestock to the mountain top for grazing, in order to avoid tax increases for the remaining villagers.

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