Implementing partner Savannakhet provinces
Handicap International (HI) is a major
international demining NGO based in Belgium. It has provided support to
UXO LAO since 1996; HI conducted the National Survey on the Socio-Economic
impact of UXO. Funded by the European Union, HI currently provides technical
advisors as well as equipment in Savannkhet province. Their national programme
also includes rehabilitation and disabled-people’s projects.
Savannakhet, located in the middle of Laotian panhandle, bordering Vietnam in the east and Thailand in the west, is the most heavily populated province in the country, with the potential to be a major rice producer. This in turn would benefit the social and economic situation in the province. However, any attempt to achieve this is hampered by the presence of UXO. This is due to the war history, where eastern areas hosted several routes for the Ho Chi Minh Trails. During the conflict massive air strikes were unleashed on both sides of the border in an attempt to stop the flow of military equipment and personnel along the Trails. The net result for the province has been some of the most severe UXO contamination in the country. The western half of the province is lowland plain while the eastern districts are mountainous.
Savannahkhet’s population of 671,580 (1995 census) and consists of different ethnic groups, with Lao Loum predominating in the west of the province. Economic activity centres around agriculture with lowland rice production, cash cropping and animal and poultry breeding being most common in the plain areas. Fishing, including fish farming, also occurs. In the remote districts in the east, upland rice production is practiced where possible, and is combined with animal and poultry raising and a small amount of cropping. Hunting and foraging supplement other food producing activities. In remote areas, all farming activities are for personal consumption. In some districts food self-sufficiency is not achieved.
Savannahkhet is the most severely contaminated province in Lao PDR, with the five districts of Sepone, Vilabouly, Nong, Phine and Atsaphantong being the most affected. UXO contamination covers almost three quarters of the land area of Savannahkhet. Savannahkhet was also the location of the biggest land battle of the war, in Sepone district in 1971. The east and centre of the province experienced intense bombing throughout the Indochina conflict from 1964-1973.
UXO LAO commenced working in Savannahkhet in July 1997. Since then, our teams have cleared 646 hectares of land and have disposed of more than 116,000 Items of UXO. Community Awareness Teams have visited 663 villages, reach more than 145,000 people.
Handicap International Belgium (HIB) has provided technical assistance to UXO Lao since 1997. This assistance is currently supported by the EU, and consists of one senior technical advisor and two TAs based in the province, down from a peak of 10 technical advisors in 1999. HI assistance is currently planned to phase out in December 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 6 districts, complete 36 tasks that are estimated to benefit over 8,000 people and clear over 185 hectares of land.
Assistance to specific development projects, implemented by other agencies will include:
January to December 2004
– 440,000 square metres for the ‘ Poverty Eradication Project ( Agriculture Land ) ‘ in Phine district funded by the Lao Government.
July to September 2004
– 150,000 square metres for road construction project in Xepon district funded by the government of Belgium , implemented by the NGO BTC
November to December 2004
100,000 square metres for a road construction project in Nong and Phine districts funded by the EU
Roving Teams will visit 296 villages in Atsaphangthong, Phine, Sepone, Nong, Thapangthong, Vilabuly, Phalanxay districts.
The teams will continue with their on-going programme of village visits. In 2004, they intend to visit 46 villages and bring UXO avoidance and risk education messages to 16,411 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.
Survey teams working in the province will visit 296 villages in the following districts: Atsaphangthong, Phine, Sepone, Nong, Thapangthong, Vilabuly, Phalanxay. 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.