Debris Management for Lifesaving in UXO-Contaminated Flood Zones

 

Female beneficiaries repairing a flood-ravaged road in Khammouane Province. Photo: UNDP Lao PDR/Ildiko Hamos-Sohlo

 

What is this project about?

During 18-19 July 2018, tropical storm Son-Tinh flooded 13 of the 17 provinces of Lao PDR, causing a dam breach in Attapeu Province. Subsequently all provinces were flooded to various extents in August and September by heavy rains caused by tropical storms Bebinca and Bajirat. As a result, damaged infrastructure was in need of repair and since 25% of all villages in Lao PDR are contaminated by unexploded ordnance (UXO), risks resulting from flood-induced shifting of cluster munitions in contaminated areas needed to be managed.

132,000 households were affected around the country, with the area of paddy fields harmed reaching nearly 100,000 ha. 630 km of roads and 47 bridges damaged. In particular households practicing subsistence farming were hit hard with basic food crop losses as well as cash crops. Lives and livelihoods were threatened and blocked roads prevented access to markets and critical social services. Wells needed to be cleaned so that communities could have access to drinkable water again.

Among the most-impacted provinces was Khammouane, which is also one of the most heavily contaminated with UXO. To respond to the needs in the province, UNDP submitted a joint request to the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

The UNDP project utilized a cash for work program to repair roads, clear irrigation canals and expand water storage reservoirs. Cash for work provided temporary employment opportunities to the most vulnerable families in the districts of Hinboun, Nongbok, Mahaxai and Yommalath. The intervention ensured opportunities for women and vulnerable social groups.

To prevent further loss of life from UXO, the affected population was made aware of the increased risks under flood response conditions. To support this, the project developed and furnished UXO training and awareness materials to the existing UXO Risk Education Teams and village volunteers for dissemination in schools and communities.

Objectives and Outcomes

  • To protect the lives and livelihoods of the flood-affected population in Khammouane Province and ensure their access to essential services.
  • Restoration of access to markets and services through the repair of damaged infrastructure.
  • Increased awareness of risks related to UXO among communities living in contaminated areas.
  • Provision of job opportunities to the affected communities through cash for work programs.

Project Details

  • Duration: October 2018 – April 2019
  • Geographic coverage: Khammouane Province, Mahaxai, Hinboun, Nongbok and Yommalath Districts
  • Focus area: Emergency response
  • Implementing partners: Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR, UXO Lao

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