Sombath Somphone was born into a farming family in Khammouane Province, Laos, the eldest of eight brothers and sisters. In the early 1970’s he received a scholarship to study at the University of Hawaii where he received a BA in Education (1974) and an MA in Agriculture (1978).
Returning to his home country after independence, Sombath’s initial work was on promoting low-cost methods of improving farm production and food security. Later, he pioneered the use of participatory rural appraisal techniques in Laos. In 1996, he established the Participatory Development Training Center, PADETC, to provide training for youth, and local government officials in community-based development.
In June, 2012, Sombath retired from his position as Director of PADETC, intending to spend more time with his familiy, meditating and writing.