Implementing partner Sekong and Attapeu provinces
Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) is a major
international demining NGO and has been operational in Sekong since late
1997, and in Attapeu since 1998. With grant monies from the Norwegian
Government agency NORAD, NPA provides supplemental on-the-job training
to the UXO LAO staff. NPA’s aim is to further develop the capacity of
the provincial Lao staff so that they can manage and implement all facets
of the Programme.
Sekong, located in the south of the country, is made up of mountainous and forested areas with limited land for lowland rice cropping and pastures for livestock. It suffers from very high levels of UXO contamination, with the most severely affected areas being those consistent with the main trail in the Ho Chi Minh network of trails. Many villages have reported the continued presence of UXO in their upland rice fields.
It is estimated that more than 670 km² of land is contaminated, half of which is grazing lands while 300 km² of the remaining contaminated land is upland rice fields. This means that half of the cultivated upland area in the province is UXO-affected. In an endeavour to deal with the UXO problem, UXO LAO/NPA are carrying out community awareness raising, roving clearance tasks (EOD) and UXO/landmine area clearance.
The province comprises four districts. The two eastern districts of Kaleum and Dakcheung are mountainous and forested. These districts are virtually inaccessible during the wet season and access remains difficult in the dry season. The western districts of Thateng and Lamam are flat and enjoy year-round access.
The population of 74,897 consists of 14 different ethnic groups. Many of these people speak limited Lao. In the east of the province, people engage in shifting cultivation for the production of rice although this is reducing through relocation of the population and assistance from development projects. Hunting and foraging supplement the rice diet. Almost all food production is for personal consumption and there is a reliance on external aid to make up deficits. In the flatter lands to the west the people practice irrigated lowland rice production, animal and poultry raising and cash cropping. The western areas have access to bigger markets, such as Pakse in neighbouring Champassak province.
Sekong is the fifth most severely UXO contaminated province in Lao PDR, and all four districts have high prioritv for UXO clearance. Like Attapeu, Sekong sits on the lower end of the former Ho Chi Minh trail, and was thus heavily bombed during the conflict in Indochina .
UXO LAO commenced working in Sekong in late 1997. Since then, our teams have cleared 203 hectares of land and have disposed of more than 15,700 items of UXO. Community Awareness Teams have visited 350 villages, reaching more than 55,000 people.
Norwegian People ‘ s Aid (NPA) has provided technical assistance to UXO LAO in Sekong since late 1997. From a peak of 2 advisors in 1999, NPA currently provides one advisor on technical EOD issues and one on quality management, to be shared with neighbouring Attapeu province. Funding support in 2002 and 2003 was provided by the US Government, and this assistance will hopefully be extended into 2004 to cover the activities of this Work Plan.
Area clearance operations will seek to clear land for the poorest families. In line with UXO Lao ‘ s overall mandate and priorities, area 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 all 4 districts, complete 60 tasks that are estimated to benefit over 19,000 people and clear nearly 73 hectares of land.
Roving Teams will visit 60 villages in Lamam, Kaleum, Dakcheung and Thateng 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 52 villages and bring UXO avoidance and risk education messages to11,029 people. To expand the reach and ensure the sustainability of the programme they will seek to train XXXX village volunteers, mostly in remote, high UXO impact areas of the province.
The survey teams working in the province will visit 52 villages in the following districts: Lamam, Kaleum, Dakcheung and Thateng. 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.