Incidence of poverty


This map depicts the poverty rates at the village level measured as a percentage of the population living below the poverty line, as defined in the introduction to this section. It clearly identifies the poor areas of the country. The darker the red on the map the higher the poverty rate, and the darker the green the smaller is the percentage of the population living below the poverty line.

While the national poverty rate was an estimated 34.7%, the poverty rates at the village level vary widely. A comparison of this map with the elevation map presented in Section A (Map A.3) clearly shows the highest incidences of poverty are concentrated in the mountainous areas. The highest poverty rates are found in the mountainous parts of the south, along the border with Vietnam while somewhat lower rates can be found in most villages of the northern uplands. The lowest poverty rates, on the other hand, are found in urbanised areas in and around the largest towns, on the Bolaven plateau (possibly reflecting the good agricultural conditions there, with fertile brown basalt soils and favourable climatic conditions), and in the southern part of Xayaboury province along the border with Thailand.

This map gives further details of the spatial distribution of poverty within such areas. For example in Luangprabang province the map shows green areas along the Mekong River and in and around Luangprabang town. Furthermore, the village poverty map reveals a stretch of green in the orange and red areas, marking the lower Nam Ou valley (which coincides with the first section of the main road connecting Luangprabang and Oudomxay towns). These areas with a relatively low incidence of poverty are surrounded by mountainous areas with much higher poverty rates. Villages near the rivers often benefit from the flat land, the year round availability of irrigation water and from the transportation provided by the river, all of which tend to reduce poverty rates. In addition, many urban areas in and around the district and provincial towns of the northern mountainous provinces appear clearly as green patches. This is particularly obvious for Phongsaly town, but also for instance for Muang Sing town in northern Luangnamtha province, and Phonsavanh town in Xiengkhuang province.

In the northern part of the country, the influence of the road network is particularly visible in some places (compare with Map A.3 and Map A.6). For example, there is a green stretch of villages between Vientiane and Luangprabang, and to a lesser extent between Luangprabang and Xayaboury, and further on to Paklay in Xayaboury province. This corresponds to the path of the highway connecting the towns and may be an indication of the impact of market access on poverty rates (cf. Map A.6). Similarly, the greenish stretch running from the centre of Huaphanh province towards the border with Vietnam marks the path of the road from Xamneua town to Viengxay and the border with Vietnam, indicating the potential of border trade to benefit the local populace. The road from Oudomxay town to the Mekong River harbour in Pak Beng is clearly visible, running southwest from Oudomxay in a fairly straight line towards the Mekong River.

In the south, besides the green areas along the Mekong River valley, villages with lower poverty rates stretch along the road connecting the National Road No.13S in the Mekong River valley with Laksao and the border crossing to Vietnam, a transit route running west-east through Borikhamxay province, which serves as an important channel for trade between the two countries.



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