IMPACT OF THE UXO PROBLEM
The Lao Government recognises UXO contamination as an ongoing development challenge in the country. UXO contamination continues to threaten the physical safety, livelihoods, and food security of people in more than 25% of villages in Lao PDR. It is a cross-cutting issue and affects the aim of the Government to maintain rapid economic growth in order to improve the living conditions of the poor, graduate from least developed country status by 2020, and meet its Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
UXO is an identified cause of poverty. The National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) in 2003 states that there appears to be a significant correlation between the presence of UXO and the prevalence of poverty. Some of the most UXO contaminated communities are also among the poorest in the country. Its presence causes food shortages in affected provinces as it limits agricultural production expansion and villagers’ ability to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Many of the poor and vulnerable groups in remote rural communities face the dilemma of risking life and limb in tampering with UXO, or continuing living in impoverished conditions. Any kind of development program taking place in UXO affected areas (road building, school construction, or tourism development) are at risk from UXO and require substantial extra resources for UXO clearance.
UXO clearance contributes to the Lao Government’s poverty eradication program, the Government’s aim of exiting the least developed country status by 2020, and meeting the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.