(KPL) The Government of Australia has increased its contribution to UXO clearance operations in the areas flooded last year in Attapeu in order to ensure the safety of resettled communities dislocated by the floods.
The agreement was signed by Ms Jane Chandler, Chargé d’affaires of Australia to the Lao PDR and the UNDP Resident Representative Ricarda Rieger in Vientiane Capital on Jun 27.
The Government of Australia just announced an additional AUD 407,000 (approx. USD 291,000 or 2.5 billon kip) to carry out UXO clearance operations in Attapeu. Since September 2018, the initial funding of AUD 200,000 has permitted the deployment of five additional UXO Lao clearance teams in Sanamxay district, Attapeu Province, to support the flood response through area clearance for emergency displacement and permanent settling of people afflicted by the floods. This additional funding will bring Australia’s total assistance to UXO clearance to AUD 607,000, and total Australian humanitarian assistance in Attapeu to AUD 3.4 million.
Attapeu is one of the most UXO contaminated province in the Lao PDR. 94 % of villages in Attapeu are contaminated by UXO. Following the flooding, there are higher levels of risks posed by UXO in the flooded areas as UXO might have been shifted by the floods.
The Governor of Attapeu requested UXO Lao to deploy an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team to Sanamxay district.
The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) estimates the total cost of recovery needs after the floods in the UXO sector at USD 92.6 million of the total needs figure, which is USD 520 million. This is the second largest tranche of needs after the transport sector.
Australia’s newly pledged funds will help contribute to the PDNA needs for recovery and reconstruction and will cover eight months of UXO Lao clearance operations by five teams in Attapeu Province. By December 2019, they expect to clear around 120 ha of contaminated land in the flood-affected villages and their vicinity.
“Australia’s support for UXO Lao in Attapeu Province builds on our many years of investment helping the Lao Government to tackle the challenge of UXOs and achieve its Sustainable Development Goal number 18,” said Ms. Jane Chandler.
“This additional funding will help contribute to the national disaster recovery framework for flooding response needs and will enable UXO Lao to continue its operations and clear UXO contaminated land to ensure people in Attapeu have access to safe residential and agricultural land,” she added.
UNDP Resident Representative Ricarda Rieger said: “UNDP’s long-standing cooperation with the Government of the Lao PDR in the UXO sector comes into play specifically when we can move jointly in times of distress. Following last year’s tragic floods, we are thankful to the Government of Australia for yet another commitment to ensure people can pick up their lives and live without fear from UXO.”
UNDP’s engagement in the UXO sector is guided by the principle of leaving no one behind and the commitment to achieve national Sustainable Development Goal SDG 18 on Lives Safe from UXO.