Vientiane/Bangkok, 1 March 2021- The Government of New Zealand has been a long-term partner and generous supporter of the Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) sector or more than twenty years. It has now reiterated this support through an additional four years of funding through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), from 2021 to 2024, in a sum totalling NZ$10,300,000.
Under the most recent project between 2016 and 2020, New Zealand focused its support on addressing the UXO problem in Xiengkhouang Province which is the second most contaminated province in Lao PDR. UXO contamination poses a significant threat to human security and continues to hamper the development potential for affected communities. The project activities were implemented by UXO Lao, a national organisation operating in nine of the most heavily UXO-contaminated provinces throughout the country.
As a direct result of the support provided under this project, the number of victims in Xiengkhouang fell from 29 in 2016 to 6 in 2020. This can be attributed not only to the UXO survey and clearance activities themselves, but also to the increased focus on Mine Risk Education (MRE) activities within the province. In 2020 alone, the UXO Lao MRE teams visited 39 villages, reaching a total audience of 38,563 (18,580 men and 19,983 women).
The impact of New Zealand’s support in Xienkhouang Province can be seen through both the results listed above, and felt quite keenly by those living in the affected areas. One such individual who has benefitted from the support provided is Mrs. Nouvang, an ethnic Hmong woman living with her husband and three sons in Nakhampang Village, Pek district.
In May 2019, a UXO Lao clearance team visited her land, where they found and destroyed 20 UXOs. After the land was cleared and officially handed over to Nouvang and her family, she started growing more lettuce and dug a small fishpond. She now employs locals to cut the grass and help grow the crops, as the land productivity has greatly increased. When asked about what the support has meant to her, she describes “I cannot find the words to express my sincere gratitude to UXO Lao Xiengkhouang. I truly appreciate the work you have done on our land and I hope UXO Lao XK continues clearing more land, so is it completely free from UXOs.”
New Zealand will continue its support to UXO Lao’s operations in Xiengkhouang Province under this new 4-year commitment, including its Area Clearance, Non-Technical and Technical Survey and MRE activities.
New Zealand will also increase its support given to the National Regulatory Authority to the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR (NRA), through both capacity development support to the Quality management and Clearance units of the NRA, as well as the provision of technical advisory support aimed at strengthening the existing UXO National Training Centre.
This essential funding will ensure that the Government of Lao PDR meets its obligations under both the Convention on Cluster Munitions, as well as the Lao PDR-specific SDG18 “Lives Safe from UXO”. The project activities will also closely align with the 9th National-Socio Economic Development Plan (2021-2025) being prepared by the Government of Lao PDR, as well as the next long-term UXO national strategy covering the period from 2021 to 2030.
Ms. Aksonethip Somvorachit, Communications Analyst
Tel: 020 5502 1550