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2. Research methodology

For the purpose of this study, the researchers adopted the LYU definition of youth as anyone aged between 15 and 30.2

The study focused on Lao national policies related to rural youth, the organizations that work with them and the situation of rural youth in selected villages. The research methodology included a combination of literature review, survey questionnaires, interviews and participatory rural assessments (Table 2.1). During the research phase, the study team3reviewed existing literature on social issues related to rural youth and identified possible gaps in the information. The study team then selected three villages in Vientiane province and four in Phongsaly province (chosen by the District Youth Union) from which research data were collected. During the field research, the team interviewed 63 youth, seven village headmen, two provincial Youth Union Secretaries and two District Youth Union Secretaries. The team also visited two ethnic vocational training centres: the North Phongsaly Alternative Development Project, which is part of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MOAF) and the Department of Health in Phongsaly province, and the Vocational Training Centre of Vientiane province.

Table 2.1: Example of one methodological approach used during the village survey




A youth group was identified to interview.


The participants were divided into three groups: men only, women only and a combined group.


Each person drew a map of his/her village in its current form and explained it to his/her group.


Each person drew a picture of his/her village, as he/she would like to perceive it in the future.


Each group listed its priorities and identified activities that could address those needs.


The proposed activities were prioritized.


Each participant indicated which activities they were willing to participate in and/or take responsibility for implementation. Seasonal calendar information was also collected.

The team interviewed government officials working with rural development and youth at national, provincial and district levels to assess the current situation as well as the capacity and extent for improvement in the rural youth situation.

For the participatory rural assessments, youth were responsible for the village mapping exercises that examined their present and future situations and an activity calendar as well as a wealth ranking of household income sources. Also, a village survey was conducted to collect baseline data on rural youth development characteristics, conditions, situations, needs, interests and aspirations, problems and priorities. This allowed a preliminary analysis of the data and the preparation of a shortlist of priority needs and potential.

Various techniques were then used to refine priorities and concerns for planning. This included group work to map present and future village plans that were consolidated into one village map. Common lists of priorities and proposed activities in the villages were created.

Study limitations

The interviews with youth, which were carried out in the seven villages and at two vocational training centres, are not representative for the age group in the study's focus. As Table 2.2 illustrates, there is a significant difference in the number of interviewees in each of the three age groups and in the sex representation within the three age groups.

Table 2.2: Number of interviewed youth, by age and sex

Age group















These constraints impacted on the collected data in relation to some of the questions contained in the questionnaires. For instance, there was a difference in the way a 14-year-old answered compared with a 25-year-old regarding the breakdown of household income from agriculture and forestry. But because many girls marry and become a parent at a young age and are not considered as "young people" anymore - by themselves or the local community, there were fewer of them among the older age group to respond.

Also, some girls were shy to respond while some others were working when the interviews were taking place in their village.

With this in mind, the data collected in the field were used as pointers for the desk research, and thus the conclusions in the report are not solely based on the field study.

Also, the study was conducted in only seven villages and may not represent the situation in the whole country. Further studies in other regions of the country should be undertaken to ensure a complete and accurate understanding of the needs and potential of rural youth.

Structure of the report

Chapter 3 focuses on the national situation in Lao PDR. There is a general introduction to the country, with socio-economic facts presented, followed by a review of the overall national development policies and policies regarding youth. The chapter also outlines the institutional framework, including national and international organizations that focus on youth issues. Rural youth issues regarding education, employment and health are then highlighted. The chapter concludes with discussion on the obstacles and opportunities for rural youth in relation to the national development policies, including ways that rural youth are or are not addressed within national policies. Chapter 4 presents information collected in selected villages in Phongsaly and Vientiane provinces, with discussion of these findings regarding opportunities and obstacles confronting rural youth. The report concludes in Chapter 5 with a summary of the main aspects identified during the study and recommendations for further action.

2 The United Nations defines youth as anyone aged between 15 and 24.

3 The preliminary part of the study was undertaken by Dr Vanhmany Chanhsomphou and her research assistant, Mr Phuaphet, who carried out the field research and writing of primary findings. The case study was then taken over by Anne Nielsen, who verified the data, redid the desk study and finalized the report. The change of consultants caused some trouble, as the field-level data had already been collected and because the data had proven to be rather weak and lacking different aspects. This has affected the outcome of this report and especially the analysis on the village level and the linkages between the national and village levels.

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