The Dutch and Austrian governments and the European Union have provided more than 40 billion kip (US$5 million) for unexploded ordnance (UXO) clearance and aid for UXO victims in Savannakhet province.

Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun (right) shakes hands with Mr Mark Morrison at the signing ceremony.
Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun (right)
shakes hands with Mr Mark Morrison at the signing
The work will be carried out in Nong, Vilabouly and Xepon districts by Handicap International (HI).

An agreement regarding financial support was signed in Vientiane yesterday by the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos (NRA) Director, Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun, and HI representative, Mr Mark Morrison.

Mr Morrison said HI’s approach to the UXO problem in Laos was integrated and community-based, linking clearance with development.

According to Mr Morrison, HI received a grant from the Dutch government for more than 30 billion kip (US$3.8 million) last year to assist its strategy in Laos for the period 2013-2016, which was followed by a European Union offer of more than 10 billion kip (US$1.2 million).

Mr Morrison said the new project will include activities focusing on UXO clearance, risk education and victims’ assistance, and will support the NRA’s Savannakhet office, which will play a key role in its implementation.

A Cluster Munitions Remnant Survey will be conducted to identify the scope of the problem in the target villages.

The project will allow HI to double the size of its clearance team, doubling also the clearance rate of the programme.

Risk reduction activities will also be facilitated in the three respective districts.

Mr Morrison said the project will focus on support for victims, with persons disabled by UXO accidents and their family members to be engaged in income generation activities to assist improvement of their economic and social situation.

The project will utilise a personalised support approach to give each individual beneficiary the opportunity to develop a livelihood plan and to receive specialised training and material support.

HI has been present in the UXO sector in Laos since 1996, and has operated its own UXO programme including area clearance and risk reduction since 2006.

The organisation works in Savannakhet province and focuses on 20 villages per year in the target districts of Nong, Vilabouly and Xepon.

Since 2006, HI has cleared more than 2 million square metres of land and destroyed 14,450 items of UXO.

On average, the HI UXO programme supports 3,000 persons per year to enjoy an increased quality of life.

“Our clearance activities are implemented in partnerships with district authorities, local Poverty Reduction Funds and development NGOs such as Welt Hunger Hilfe,” Mr Morrison said.

Source: Vientiane Times
July 16, 2013