Switzerland commits a further US$3.79 million to tackle UXO in Lao PDR
Vientiane, 27 September 2013
Switzerland extended its support to the UXO sector in Lao PDR today with an additional contribution of US$3.79 million. The funds will go towards strengthening the capacity of the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action (NRA) as well as supporting the on-going clearance operations of UXO Lao, the two national institutions tackling the deadly legacy of unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Lao PDR. The contribution will be channelled through the UXO Trust Fund, administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The agreement was signed by Mrs. Ruth Huber, Regional Director of the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) and Mr. Minh Pham, UNDP Resident Representative to Lao PDR, at the NRA office in Vientiane. The signing was witnessed by H.E. Mr. Bounheuang Douangphachanh, Minister to the Government’s Office and Chairman of the NRA Board and key government officials from the line ministries.
Speaking at the ceremony, Mrs. Huber from SDC stated that part of Switzerland’s renewed financial support to the UXO Trust Fund was ear-marked for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to help develop survey methodologies, in order to better prioritize clearance operations all over the Lao PDR. Mrs. Huber emphasized that while the choice of appropriate survey and clearance technology was important, the implementation of an adequate methodology, in particular for survey, was absolutely necessary in achieving quick and effective work.
Mr. Pham from UNDP said: “This earmarked support will complement a contribution from the Government of Australia to enable the NRA to establish a Civil Society Funding Facility in support of the work of NGOs in the UXO sector.”
US$3.16 million of the latest contribution is un-earmarked support for the day-to-day operations of NRA and UXO Lao, including the UXO sector coordination and regulatory work, clearance, surveys, risk education and training. The remainder of the funding will be allocated to Non-Governmental Organisations for developing UXO survey methodologies. The funds will be spread over the next two years until 2015.
Switzerland has been generously supporting the UXO sector in Lao PDR since 2006, and the latest contribution brings their total funding since then to more than US$10 million. This includes a previous contribution of US$6.5 million for supporting UXO sector activities through UNDP of which about a half was channelled through the UNDP’s UXO Trust Fund.
UNDP’s UXO Trust Fund was established in 2010 by UNDP to increase Government ownership, improve coordination and effective prioritisation of work in the UXO Sector. Lao PDR is still a long way from achieving the ambitious targets for UXO clearance under its national Millennium Development Goal 9, and the Trust Fund helps ensure that UXO actions in the country are coordinated with the government's national development priorities. In addition, the Trust Fund will support Lao PDR to fulfil its international treaty obligations under the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
Tackling the UXO issue is critical for long-term sustainable and equitable development, and continued support from the international community is required to assist the Lao people in realising their right to live without harm or fear of UXO and to achieve their aspirations for poverty reduction.
Ms Viratsamay Visonnavong, UXO Unit, UNDP Lao PDR Country Office, Tel: +856 (0)21 267 777