“Hey, man! Get down here with the key, we want to show our guests how the pump works”, Bounyong mouths into his phone. The Village Head of Hang Heng Village in Saravane Province of southern Lao PDR impatiently shoves his phone into the back pocket of his faded jeans. It is evident he is eager to show us the pump that feeds a communal irrigation system, supplying water to his village’s rice paddies. The pump is floating on a raft-like construction, secured with a locked door, close to the shore of what looks like a lake.
First come the rains. They make lakes and rivers rise, flooding villages and fields. “In my 20 years here in this village, I have never seen six consecutive days of relentless rain. But last year, that’s what’s happened”, says Bounchang Jingkalieng, inhabitant of Kamkok Village in the southern province of Sekong in Lao PDR.
This story starts in 2008. On a misty morning, Phasi, a local farmer of Ngodphae Village, in the Northern Lao province of Xieng Khouang climbed Phou San, a mountain close to his village. Huddled in a fleece jacket against the chill of the morning, he ascended higher and higher on the slopes. Collecting dewdrops on the tip of his fingers, his hands brushed the low shrubs by his feet as he was panting up the mountain. Stopping cold in his tracks, he suddenly bowed down, close to one of the light-green plants by his feet. In an affectionate gesture, he stroked the top of the Camellia Sinensis bush, turning the branches around to see whether the pointed leaves bore the secret he was looking for.
UNDP Lao PDR has taken UXO Lao's 20th anniversary as an opportunity to produce UNDP's first Virtual Reality film and put the viewer right into the field, with a demining team. Through the power of virtual reality, we witness the extreme work of this team, and follow Saysamone, the team leader and her crew.
4 April marks the International Day for Mine Awareness and Assistance in Mine Action. This day was declared by the United Nations in 2005 with the aim to raise public awareness on the danger of unexploded ordnance and mines and mobilise necessary resources for addressing the problem worldwide, particularly in affected countries, such as Lao PDR.
"Improving the Resilience of the Agricultural Sector to Climate Change" helped Lao farmers in flood and draught-prone areas to adapt to climate change via introduction of an applied ecosystems-based approach to agriculture.
Ms. Vieng, 32, can now proudly say that she is a mushroom farmer of Luang Prabang Province. A smile appears on her face when showing an oyster mushroom fruiting body from a bag she learned to prepare after participating in a training on mushroom cultivation with her group in Huayman, her native village in Phonexay District.
For Lar, a farmer from Luang Prabang Province, UXO Lao, the national unexploded ordnance clearance operator, has put an end to anxiety. "They came to clear our land of bombs, free of charge, and now we can use all parts of our land. We are happy now that our family is safe."