Unexploded Ordnance: In-depth
Improving Safety Through UXO Removal
In 2014 alone, UXO Lao, supported by UNDP and its Development Partners, released 3,056 hectares of land through clearance and technical survey. Since the programme began in 1996, more than 30,000 hectares of land – 300 square kilometres – have been cleared and more than 1 million items of UXO destroyed. This removal of UXO increases the safety of people in nearby communities and expands the amount of land available for agriculture and other development activities. UXO Lao also clears land in support of international development projects, including construction of schools, hospitals, health care centres and marketplaces. Using a new, evidence-based survey methodology, UXO Lao now focuses clearance more efficiently on areas identified as contaminated with UXO. This approach has already seen an immense increase in the number of UXO items removed per hectare and will eventually lead to further attention to land clearly defined as hazardous rather than areas considered to be of lower risk.
Increasing Awareness through Mine Risk Education
Mine risk education activities are designed to increase the awareness of people living in UXO-affected areas about the dangers of unexploded ordnance. In 2014, Mine Risk Education textbooks were updated and broadcasting of UXO information by radio expanded to more provinces. 2014 alone, a total of 218,628 people in Lao PDR, including 105,677 children, benefited from mine risk education, which is adapted for specific age groups through puppet shows, songs, dances, and games. During this period, residents of 650 villages and schools received community awareness.
The UXO Trust Fund
To help mobilize and manage international assistance, the Trust Fund for Support to the Full Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Lao PDR (UXO Trust Fund) was established in 2010 and is managed by UNDP. The Trust Fund, which currently serves primarily as a mechanism for support to the NRA and UXO Lao, is operated under the framework of the national UXO strategy and UXO policies approved by the NRA Board. Its Steering Committee is chaired by the Government and co-chaired by UNDP, in close consultation with the UXO Sector Working Group.
Financial resources contributed through the Trust Fund allow for an enhanced UXO sector-wide approach and increased Government ownership, leadership and discretion over resource allocation in the sector. The Trust Fund complements other funding options available to donors, including bilateral support and direct funding to UXO operators. Non-Governmental Organizations support the sector increasingly through various activities. Examples of such initiatives were the approval of the Victim Assistance strategy in 2014 and the creation of an Information Management System for Mine Action Profiles, a database containing over 8,000 survivors whose data has been used by various Non-Governmental organizations to identify needs of individuals for Victim Assistance pilot projects.
MDG 9: Reduce the Impact of UXO
The Lao specific MDG9, to reduce the impact of UXO by 2020, highlights the links between UXO presence and poverty. Adopted in 2010 as part of the MDG Compact, a further commitment by Government and development partners to attain the overall MDGs, it sets three target:
- Ensure the complete clearance of UXO from priority / high-value agricultural land by 2020
- Reduce substantially the number of casualties as a result of UXO incidents
- Ensure that the medical and rehabilitation needs of all survivors are met in line with treaty obligations under the CCM