Ms. Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator, UNDG Chair and her delegation visited Lao PDR-Luangprabang province on 27-29 November 2015.
In this visit, Ms. Helen Clark and her delegation went for a sightseeing tour of the World Heritage City of Luangprabang province include: Wat Visounarath, Wat Xiengthong and the Royal Palace and then they visited UNDP/FAO agrobiodiversity project site (Villages engaged in the production of oyster mushrooms). Ms. Helen Clark and her delegation also visited UXO Clearance field, CHA and mine risk education site in Luangprabang.
The Australian high level officials visited UXO Lao Visitors Center in Luangprabang province at 3:00pm in the afternoon on 24 November 2015. This visit was very significant. The purpose of this visit was to open the small opening ceremony of this visitors center.
This Visitor Center was established on 16 March 2009 with the support of Australian Goverment, but it was damaged by short-circuit electricity on 18 June 2014 and then it has been renovated that funded by DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade).
At the ceremony, Mr. Houmphanh CHANTHAVONG, Luangprabang provincial coordinator provided a briefing about history of UXO in Laos and then Mr. Craig Chittick, First Assistant Secretary for South-East Asia Mainland and Regional Division provided a short speech about their support to this center. This ceremony was also honorly witnessed by Mr. Vongsavanh THEPPHACHANH, Vice-Governor of Luangprabang province. After the opening ceremony, Mr. Houmphanh CHANTHAVONG guided australian high level officials tour in exhibition room and watched a UXO short film. Finally, they left this center at 4:00pm and we closed the ceremony.
US provides funding for UXO Lao teams to resume work
The United States has provided new support of US$2.2 million to UXO Lao, which will enable it to rehire trained technicians it lost in 2014 as a result of funding difficulties.
Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboune ( first left ), Mr Benjamin Rhodes ( second left ), US Ambassador to Laos Mr Daniel Clune ( third left ) and officials from UXO and NRA view the exhibition.
The UXO Lao teams will be deployed in Huaphanh, Xiengkhuang, Khammouan, Savannakhet, Salavan, and Champasak provinces, according to a statement from US Deputy National Security Advisor Benjamin Rhodes on 16 October 2015. Mr Rhodes said the United States is committed to helping Laos clear UXO from contaminated areas in order to reduce casualties and to increase the productivity of agricultural land to reduce poverty. Since 1993, the United States has provided over US$83 million in UXO-related assistance to Laos. In 2015, US funding totalled US$15 million. Priority funding will support the clearance of UXO found as a result of evidence-based surveys of contaminated areas. Victims’ assistance programmes will provide direct services to the survivors of UXO accidents and their families and help strengthen the first aid and emergency response of key health facilities and village volunteers in heavily impacted provinces. Funding for risk awareness supports the education of Lao citizens, especially children, about the dangers of UXO. General Director of the National Regulatory Authority, Mr Phoukhieo Chanthasomboun, said 2015 is a turning point for the UXO sector, with approval of the new survey procedures that provide a stronger evidence-based system for surveys, and implementation by all five humanitarian clearance operators. This system helps officials to understand clearly the scope of the UXO problem to better estimate the remaining UXO contamination in Laos. It also gives the sector the ability to plan the time and funding required to reduce or eliminate casualties from UXO accidents, he added. Mr Phoukhieo said the change includes a more systematic village by village approach in line with the new National Socio-Economic Development Plan indicators. “We have moved from a request-based approach to an evidence-based survey approach, including non-technical survey and technical survey, to establish the Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHAs).”“Firstly, it ensures a better use of the existing resources, by clearing only UXO contaminated land, with a higher number of cluster munitions cleared per hectare. We have already observed the improved results of UXO Lao and other operators due to this new approach,” he added. Secondly, it allows multi-year planning through the allocation of CHAs among clearance operators, in line with the priorities established with local, regional, provincial and national authorities.There are now many defined CHAs waiting to be cleared and, with input from village to national level, a plan to clear these CHAs in the coming years will be developed.“This additional funding to UXO Lao will increase the pace of the survey efforts and more effective clearance; and it will contribute to the full implementation of the new evidence-based concept of operations introduced by UXO Lao at the end of 2014,” Mr Phoukhieo said.
The source is from Vientiane Times newspaper.
TOKYO (Kyodo News) — Japan will provide grant aid totalling US$11 million to help Laos speed up the removal of unexploded ordnance (UXO) left over from the Indochina War and prepare for hosting ASEAN meetings next year, according to an accord they signed on Saturday.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lauded the agreement at a joint press conference with Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong after witnessing the signing of the deal in Tokyo on the fringes of a summit meeting of Japan and five Southeast Asian Mekong countries.
US$6.9 million of the deal will be used for UXO removal efforts with US$4.1 million to assist the country to serve as ASEAN chair next year.
“Much unexploded ordnance remains in Laos and this is blocking economic and social
development. I strongly hope that efforts to remove it will be accelerated,” Mr Abe said. Japan’s latest aid would also help develop the land after UXO removal aiding efforts torebuild the economy and alleviate poverty in Laos, Japanese officials said.
Mr Thongsing said at the news conference he remained thankful for Japan’s financial aid which continues to play a “vital role” in his country’s economy and social development. Mr Abe and Mr Thongsing also reaffirmed their cooperation in pushing for infrastructure development in Laos, which is one of the least-developed countries in the 10-member ASEAN.