Our approach

Our approach

We believe education, formal and non-formal, is the key to longer-term development, including poverty reduction, and therefore concentrate most of our resources on children and youth – on those lives where we can have the biggest impact, the greatest return on investment, to use business language.

Based on over 16 years of first hand knowledge of Laos and its people, CLI has built deep and trusted relationships with local communities.

By training and employing staff from the actual districts we work, consulting directly with the local people and listening to their needs, it is this on the ground presence and local knowledge that is essential for success in development.

Working with other NGOs and world renowned organisations including Carla International, and in collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society, CLI is open to new ideas on expanding aid, however not to the detriment of our core activities. We continually strive to be as effective as possible.

Food for thought…

In the early, naïve days, the concept of development was generally characterized by the frequently repeated saying: ‘Give the man a fish, and you can feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you can feed him for a life’.

Boy with fishHowever, knowing how to fish is often the least of his worries, indeed there are a whole host of factors he may have to deal with, from the river being polluted and there not being any fish, to a lack of wood to make a new boat due to logging; maybe through corruption, fishing rights are allocated to others, or he is forced to sell his catch through an ineffective marketing board thereby lowering prices and preventing him from being able to make a living.

In such situations, the ‘knowledge transfer’ needed is not how to fish, but the skill to organise, bargain, and reduce corruption. These local needs and conditions, combined with our awareness of options from outside, are the mix that defines our response, not a narrow mandate drawn in advance.

ConstructionThe standard traditional project model for development while giving lip service to flexibility and sustainability, applies a predetermined project format and timeline. The project is designed to be brief enough to seem to reach paper objectives and goals, but is often insufficient to get at basic problems or achieve lasting results – declare victory and move on, with an emphasis on numbers of this and that completed.

Unfortunately, funding organizations often favor this “sure in advance to be a success” approach over the realistic longer-term commitment that is often required. We don’t think development is rocket science. But it is not easy, requires some subtlety, local knowledge and adaptation, and takes time.

Don’t just take our word for it – why not get involved and take part in one of our donor trips!

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Latest news

New dormitory for Lao girls at Keng Khene

Thursday 8 May 2014

CLI has just completed another dormitory for girls from remote villages, so they can continue their education beyond village primary school. This dorm is at the Lower Secondary School at Keng Khene village. We hope to find funds to build two more dorms in the next 12 months. To find out more about our dormitories [...]


New library boat for Lao children!

Thursday 1 May 2014

This month CLI is launching our third Lao Children’s Library Boat. Bigger and faster, it will carry more books and reach villages further upstream on the Mekong River. It will be big enough to also contain tables, and will include solar panels to allow children to read and learn into the evening. We are urgently [...]