Land, Rubber and People: Rapid Agrarian Changes and Responses in Southern Laos
In recent years Laos has experienced rapid changes in land and resource use and tenure. Of those, the allocation of expansive land concessions for rubber production has been amongst the most significant. While rubber is being developed in various ways in Laos, large rubber concessions in southern Laos have frequently overlapped with agricultural and forest lands of importance to local people, replacing them and thus dramatically affecting agrarian livelihoods. This article considers the particular circumstances surrounding large Vietnamese-owned rubber plantation concessions granted in southern Laos, and their impacts on the largely ethnic minority highland population in Bachiengchaleunsouk District, Champasak Province. In particular, the study describes how a non-government organisation (NGO) has attempted to support these communities through partnering with the local government to study the impacts of the land rubber concessions and associated agriculture transformation, and raise awareness in local communities regarding the Lao laws of relevance to these investments.