Implementing partner Xieng Khouang & Saravane provinces
The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) is major
international demining NGO and based in Britain. MAG began clearance
in Xieng Khouang during 1994 as part of a UXO education project being
implemented by the Mennonite Central Committee. Work was initially
focused in three districts and by 1997 had expanded into another three.
MAG is supporting UXO LAO in Xieng Khouang and Saravane to build the
capacity of the national staff to effectively implement and manage the
provincial operations. MAG began in Saravane in 1997, and now works in
Saravan province, comprising eight districts, is located in southern Lao PDR. The south and west of Saravan is flat lowland plain while the central, northern and eastern regions of the province are mountainous. Access in the plain areas and in the west is good. Roads are poor in the mountainous districts in the central, northern and eastern districts, where vehicle access is limited to the dry season only.
The 256,550 (1995 census) people of Saravan, are mainly Lao Loum but many minority ethnic groups live in the mountainous areas to the north and east. Lowland communities produce paddy rice and there is some diversification into cash crop farming (eg: coffee and fruit), particularly on the hillsides of the Bolovan plateau. Saravan is self-sufficient in the production of rice, and lowland areas of the province benefit from the good access to the larger markets in Pakse and neighbouring Thailand . People in the mountainous regions practice shifting cultivation, despite government efforts to reduce the practice. Hunting and foraging supplement the rice crop. People also conduct small scale animal raising and grow crops for personal consumption.
Saravan is the third most UXO-contaminated province in Lao PDR. All eight districts in Saravan have some UXO contamination, with five districts being considered as severely affected. UXO contamination in the east of Saravan results primarily from aerial activity, bombs and bombies, while in the centre and west the contamination is a combination of both land and aerial delivered items. Saravan still reports a high incidence of large unexploded bombs (2501b to 2000Ib), over 400 such items being identified in 2002.
UXO LAO commenced working in Saravan in 1997. Since then, teams have cleared 409 hectares of land and have disposed of more than 74,000 items of UXO. Community Awareness Teams have visited 456 villages, reaching more than 90,452 people.
The Mines Advisory Group (MAG) has assisted UXO Lao in Saravan since the establishment of operations in 1997. Technical assistance was phased out in June 2002, after having reached a peak of 4 technical advisors in 1999. New funding for the province, provided from the US State department in 2003 saw MAG ‘ s technical advisory role restored, and one of the main focuses of the work in 2003-04 is assisting UXO Lao ‘ s Senior Explosive Ordnance technician in destroying large bombs at a projected rate of at least 2 per week.
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 7 districts, complete 56 tasks that are estimated to benefit over 31,000 people and clear over 108 hectares of land.
Assistance to specific development projects, implemented by other agencies will include:
September to November 2004
– 33,163 square metres for school construction funded by the Lao Government
– 2600 square metres for 65 Hand Pump Projects in 6 villages in Samuoi district funded by the Belgium Government, implemented by BTC
November to December 2004
– 23,576 square metres for 3 school construction projects in villages in Ta Oi district, funded by China (Hong Kong) implemented by OXFAM
– 42,534 square metres for irrigation construction funded by the Lao Government
– 10,000 square metres for clean water canal projects in Samuoi district funded by the Belgium Government, implemented by BTC
– 1400 square metres for 4 Hand Pump Projects in villages in Ta Oi district, funded by the Australian government, implemented by OCAA.
– 2600 square metres for 5 Hand Pump Projects in villages in Ta Oi district funded by the Belgium Government, implemented by BTC.
– 2000 square metres for 7 Hand Pump Projects in villages in Toomlarn district, funded by the Australian Government, implemented by OCAA
Roving Teams will visit 117 villages in Saravan, Ta Oi, Toomlarn, Vapy, Khongxedone, Lao Ngam and Samuoi 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 47 villages and bring UXO avoidance and risk education messages to 38,424 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 113 villages in the following districts: Saravan, Ta Oi, Toomlarn, Vapy, Khongxedone, Lao Ngam and Samuoi. 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.