Lao PDR’s UXO Sector achieves new clearance milestone in 2015

Mar 15, 2016

A new evidence-based UXO survey approach has resulted in a jump in the number of cluster munitions cleared per hectare of land in 2015; from fewer than 7 cluster munitions per hectare in 2014 to more than 22 cluster munitions per hectare in 2015.

2015 was a year of significant progress and innovation for Lao PDR’s UXO sector, thanks to a new evidence-based survey method.

Vientiane, 15 May 2015 - The UXO Sector, supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), adopted a new, evidence-based UXO survey approach in 2015, which has resulted in a considerable increase in the number of cluster munitions cleared per hectare of land; from fewer than 7 cluster munitions per hectare in 2014 to more than 22 cluster munitions per hectare in 2015.

The new survey approach entails consultation with communities to identify all known UXO in and around villages, followed by technical survey to establish the extent of each Confirmed Hazardous Area, which is then entered into the national database and prioritised for clearance. The approach will help the Government of Lao PDR to establish a national baseline of contamination, which in turn will enable better planning for UXO clearance nationally. Clearing the whole country of cluster munitions is one of the obligations of the international Convention on Cluster Munitions.

Despite much progress in 2015, millions of UXO are still thought to litter Lao PDR’s rural and remote communities. The hazards caused by UXO link to poverty levels, with the most contaminated districts in the country often also being among the poorest. The number of casualties resulting from UXO accidents reported by the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/ Mine Action Sector (NRA) in 2015 was 42, well below the Millennium Development Goal 9 target of 75 casualties annually.

An evaluation of the UNDP’s support to Mine Action in Lao PDR in 2015 revealed remaining areas for support, including a need to improve task prioritisation and planning for the sector, better communicate results and progress to stakeholders, and increase the institutional capacity of the relevant government bodies, including in managing new types and larger quantities of data on UXO contamination.

These recent successes and challenges were reported today at the Annual Review Meeting/Project Board of UNDP’s programme of support to the UXO sector, chaired by H.E. Mr. Bounheuang Douangphachanh, Minister to the Prime Minister’s Office and Ms. Kaarina Immonen, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Lao PDR.  At the meeting, the new Five Year Sector Work Plan was presented by the NRA along with a recently-developed plan for completing a national cluster munitions survey by 2021. The meeting also served as a platform to gauge support and capture feedback from UNDP’s partners on the next phase of support to the UXO sector, as well as from the Government of Lao PDR on the prospect of increased national ownership of the sector.

“We hope that a strong coordinated sectoral approach to programme and technical support will help to address some of the remaining challenges in the sector and allow funding to align better with changing needs,” said Ms. Immonen.

The current UNDP UXO programme (2013-2016) has been supported by Australia, Belgium, Canada, the European Union, France, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Norway, the Republic of Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

UNDP is working with partners to ensure the full implementation of the NRA and UXO Lao’s Annual Work Plans for 2016, for which approximately USD 2,200,000 still needs to be committed.

Contact:

Souphalack Bounphadith, Planning and Reporting Officer, UXO Unit, UNDP Lao PDR; Tel: (+856) 21 267 746, Mobile: (+856) 20 2878 7460, Email: souphalack.bounpadith@undp.org