Vientiane 26 November 2018 - Lao PDR has succeeded in securing a grant from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund to support the emergency response and humanitarian efforts in the aftermath of the recent floods that occurred across the country. The US$ 3.5 million grant will be used to target six hardest-hit districts of Khammouane Province (Nongbok, Hinboun, Boaulapha, Mahaxay, Sebangfai and Yoummalath).

The planned interventions will be carried out under the leadership of several ministries and agencies, including the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and their provincial and district offices in Khammouane Province and the six target districts. Four United Nations agencies, the World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will support these efforts.

The grant will be used to restore the livelihoods of the affected population by recovering their previous sources of income and by ensuring their self-reliance. Providing nutritious food and education are additional objectives.

Nutrition, food security, health and livelihoods are the main concerns among the 136,565 people in the 302 villages that the intervention targets. In Khammouane alone, 26,590 hectares of paddy fields, 203 hectares of maize, 21 hectares of cassava and 240 hectares of vegetables were completely destroyed by the floods. This causes serious problems for the communities who depend on agriculture for food and income. The lack of dietary variety and resulting vitamin deficiencies may have caused the current beriberi outbreak in the province.

UN Agencies, in collaboration with the Lao Government will implement the relief assistance. WFP will focus on improving nutrition through cash transfers to villagers so they can retain their freedom to choose in existing markets. WHO will support emergency healthcare and testing of contaminated water sources to prevent further communicable disease outbreaks. FAO will distribute seed packets to enable resumption of planting of crops for the winter, and vaccinations to the surviving animals. UNDP in cooperation with NRA and UXO Lao will be responsible for debris management to enable irrigated agriculture and an undisrupted government service delivery. In addition, UNDP will also be educating the affected population about the risks of UXO in the aftermath of flooding.

The grant received from the Central Emergency Response Fund is a small percentage of the funds needed for implementing the Humanitarian Country Team’s Disaster Response Plan. The team has set the country-wide funding needs for its support to the Government’s flood response at about US$ 42.7 million, with Lao PDR’s total response and recovery needs going far beyond that amount. So far, a total of US$ 6.7 million has been mobilized towards the Disaster Response Plan, while a critical gap of US$ 36 million remains.

The Central Emergency Response Fund was established in 2005 by the United Nations General Assembly as a global response reserve to provide immediate and targeted assistance to victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts. It specializes in providing resources for underfunded emergencies and preventing critical gaps in relief operations. It receives funding from UN member states from around the world, as well as international organizations and the private sector.

The above-mentioned interventions have the potential to be scaled up across other flood-affected areas of Lao PDR. This in turn will help the people who were hardest hit by the disaster to pick up their lives again, while ensuring inclusive and equitable development, with the Sustainable Development Goals at its core. 

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