VZF holds successful stakeholder event to validate supply chains in Lao PDR

The Vision Zero Fund (VZF) held an event in Vientiane to introduce the Fund to stakeholders and validate the supply chains of focus

© ILO/Jean‐Pierre Pellissier
The Vision Zero Fund (VZF) recently held a successful stakeholder event in Vientiane, Lao PDR. The main aims of the event were to introduce the Vision Zero Fund to relevant stakeholders, and to validate the supply chains on which the project will focus.

The event, which took place on 28 August 2018, attracted more than 50 representatives from the government, employers’ and workers’ associations, NGOs, and the donor community. It was chaired by the Director General of the Labour Management Department of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW), Lao PDR, Mr. Phongsaysack Inthalath.

In addition to introducing the audience to the objectives and methodology of the VZF, an important aim of the event was to receive input on the validation of the two supply chains identified for intervention. The methodology adopted by the VZF (see “Occupational Safety and Health in Global Value Chains Starterkit”, ILO, 2018) is based on the assumption that each value chain is unique, and requires tailor-made interventions in order to reduce occupational accidents and diseases and improve workers’ wellbeing. The first step of the methodology involves the selection of the value chains of focus, based on a number of criteria, including market position, employment and working conditions - in particular Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) - sector organization and regulation, and environmental and social dimensions. The information is collected through a comprehensive and thorough desk review as well as consultations with relevant stakeholders. The assessment methodology uses a scoring matrix to rank the value chains. In manufacturing, the garment and textile value chain was selected, and in agriculture, three commodities were evaluated, namely coffee, bananas and sugar cane. In terms of the scoring methodology, coffee was ranked first, banana second, and sugar cane third. During consultations preceding the event, stakeholders also suggested that the rubber sector be included for consideration and discussion.

Participants in the stakeholder event to validate the VZF value chains of focus
Participants agreed that among the country’s manufacturing sub-sectors, the garment industry remains of high importance as a provider of formal employment, especially for women, and a main contributor to export revenues. Participants acknowledged the multiple OSH hazards and risks that exist in the sector, and the need to address these in order to achieve compliance with national OSH requirements, as well as with the codes of conduct of international buyers. It was also pointed out that small garment factories, in particular those that do not produce for the international market, are often not subjected to labour inspection visits and audits from international buyers, and therefore require additional support to improve OSH outcomes. In respect of the proposed agriculture sub-sectors, participants confirmed that coffee is an important provider of income and employment in rural areas, generating substantial export earnings. Employers’ representatives emphasized the sector’s prospects for further growth, which create further potential to adopt market-based solutions for improvements on OSH.

© ILO/Adri Berger
Additionally, participants suggested that while they agree that coffee would be highly suitable for inclusion into the project, the project should also consider including interventions in the banana and rubber sub-sectors based on the risks and hazards that workers in those sub-sectors are exposed to on the plantations on which they work. Stakeholder representatives expressed the need to address precarious working conditions in these sectors, especially those caused by the excessive use of hazardous chemicals.

As a follow up to the discussions, the project team will engage in a more detailed mapping of the validated supply chains, to be followed by an assessment of the drivers and constraints for OSH improvement in those chains. All these steps will be conducted in a participatory fashion, involving all relevant stakeholders, and it is anticipated that this first phase of the project will be concluded in November 2018. The second phase of the project (December 2018 to May 2020) will then be devoted to the implementation of the intervention models.