Implementing partner Khammouane province
Starting operations in 1999, World Vision
Australia (WVA), with funds provided by the Australian Government’s overseas
aid agency AusAID, is supporting UXO LAO by providing technical advice for
UXO clearance, as well as increasing the capacity of the organisation so
that it can manage the programme at provincial and district levels.
During the war Khammouane province experienced concentrated aerial bombardment in the east while in the west, intense ground battles. The province is now greatly affected by UXO contamination, especially in the districts of Boualapha, Ngommalat and Mahaxay. The presence of this UXO is denying many of the communities the opportunity to provide for their most basic needs. Khammouane is a predominantly agricultural society and is UXO contamination has reduced the amount of fertile land available, which in turn impacts on those communities’ ability to create a sustainable economic future.
The province is located in central Laos , bordering Vietnam in the east, and Thailand in the west. Khammouane comprises nine districts. The topography is varied with densely forested mountainous regions in the north, south and east and narrow flat plains along the major rivers of the province and along the Mekong River in the west. Access east beyond Mahaxay and Ngommalat is limited to the dry season due to flooding and lack of bridges. Access to other regions is also difficult, particularly in the wet season.
The population of 273,779 (1995 census), comprises of Lao Loum, Thueng and Lao Soung groups. Lowland rice is cultivated where possible, but often flooding damages the crops. Other activities include fishing, cropping, animal raising, hunting and foraging, mainly for personal consumption. Cash cropping occurs where there is access to the markets of Thakhek and/or Thailand . Shifting cultivation is reducing in remote areas. The harvesting of scrap from UXO occurs in some villages, but two accidents with large bombs, which killed 8 adult males in 2002 has discouraged this. Timber is the main commodity of the province, and a number of timber processing companies are established in the western districts.
Khammouane is the fourth most severely UXO-contaminated province in the Lao PDR. The highest contamination occurs in the eastern district of Boualapha, a major crossing point for vehicles which entered the Ho Chi Minh trail system from Vietnam during the Indochina conflict. Boualapha, Ngommolat, Mahaxay and Xaybouathong districts experienced heavy bombing from 1964-1973. The presence of UXO restricts the implementation of many development priorities and the achievement of food self sufficiency, particularly in Boualapha district.
UXO LAO commenced working in Khammouane in 1999. Since then, our teams have cleared 132 hectares of land and have disposed of more than 26,000 items of UXO. Community Awareness Teams have visited 391 villages, reach more than 89.000 people.
World Vision Australia (WVA) provided technical assistance to UXO Lao from 1999-2002, with funding provided from AUSaid. From a peak of 4 advisors in 2002, WVA withdrew its last 2 advisors in June 2002. A new relationship with Handicap International Belgium (HIB) providing assistance was approved by the Ministry of Labour andSocial Welfare in September 2003, and HIB started providing assistance in May 2004.
Area clearance operations will seek to clear land for the poorest families. In line with UXO Lao ‘ s overall mandate and priorities, clearance will provide safe land for agriculture and irrigation projects, new schools and villages, clean water and the other development projects.
The UXO Lao workplan calls for teams to work in 4 districts, complete 42 tasks that are estimated to benefit over 17,000 people and clear over 90 hectares of land.
Assistance to specific development projects, implemented by other agencies will include:
January to June 2004
– 55,000 square meters for a road construction project in Boualapha District, funded by WFP and implemented by CARE.
Roving Teams will visit 60 villages in Mahaxay, Nhommalath, Boualapha and Nakai districts. These are loose estimates based on survey data developed on the basis of information received from villagers.
The teams will continue with their on-going programme of village visits. In 2004, they intend to visit 48 villages and bring UXO avoidance and risk education messages to 16,317 people. To expand the reach and ensure the sustainability of the programme they will seek to train village volunteers, mostly in remote, high UXO impact areas of the province.
The survey teams working in the province will visit 48 villages in the following districts: Mahaxay, Nhommalath, Boualapha and Nakai. These village visits are tasked both from the annual work planning process, and are officially requested by district and village level authorities, and also as a result of requests that come directly from the community for roving team assistance. This last is often received by UXO Lao as a result of information gathered by the Community Awareness teams in the course of their village visits.