It isn’t only remote and rural communities that have been affected by recent tropical storms. While Attapeu has captured the world’s attention, the other 17 provinces in Lao PDR have also had their share of rains from Storm Son-Tinh and more recently Storm Bebinca, which struck between 16 – 17 August.
On a personal visit to the banks of the Mekong River in Vientiane , UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Kaarina Immone saw hundreds of people standing in awe as they observed the high level of the river, buildings partially submerged and lamp posts protruding from the muddy brown waters.
Since the flashfloods in Attepeu and the ensuing country-wide rains, an estimated 236,188 people have been affected, with 46 reported dead, 97 others still missing and 12,000 displaced. But what is being done to resolve the situation and prevent such rains being so destructive in the future?
UNDP and the wider UN System, along with the government, donors, multi-lateral agencies and NGOs, have been working steadily for the past six weeks to ensure a coordinated response to the floods. As lead of the Early Recovery Cluster, UNDP has been integral in the response and is now planning damage and loss assessments as well as defining a recovery programme.
Early recovery activities will include debris management, solid waste disposal, clearing of drains and canals, cash transfers, cash-for-work programmes, restoration of livelihoods, adjustment of governance mechanisms, and replanting/reforestation activities. All of these activities are to be carefully undertaken while considering the risks posed by UXOs (unexploded ordnances). A legacy of past conflict and a unique part of the history of Lao PDR, UXOs are never far from people’s minds, especially in Attapeu Province, one of the most contaminated provinces.