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
Xieng Khouang province is situated in the northeast of Lao PDR, bordering Vietnam . It consists of seven districts. The topography of Xieng Khouang is starkly contrasting, with the vast Plain of Jars plateau in the centre of the province, surrounded on all sides by mountains. Xieng Khouang is on average 1100 metres above sea level and the province experiences a temperate year round climate.
Xieng Khouang province suffers from very high levels of UXO-contamination with an estimated 25% of its land affected, or approximately 1,100km. If it were not contaminated, 645km of this land would be used for low land rice cropping, 250km for upland rice fields and 220km for grazing pastures.
The Mines Advisory Group (MAG), in co-ordination with UXO LAO and with grant monies provided by the Danish Government’s aid agency DANIDA, provided clearance and awareness in six of Xieng Khouang’s seven districts from 1998 until 2004. The teams worked in areas that vary from the rolling plains and grasslands of the Plain of Jars, to mountainous, remote areas accessible only during dry season. In several districts there are limited or no services such as electricity or running water. Until a new dedicated donor is found to support UXO Lao’s operation in Xieng Khouang, operations will continue to be financed from unearmarked contributions to the Lao UXO Trust Fund administered by UNDP.
Xieng Khouang’s population of 200,075 (1995 census), is a mix of four main ethnic groups. Lao Phouan is the largest followed by Hmong, Phou Thai and Khamu. Economic activities revolve around agriculture, including lowland and upland rice farming, animal breeding and some cash cropping. Xieng Khoaung is an isolated province and most of its agricultural products are consumed locally.
Xieng Khouang is the second most severely UXO-contaminated province in the Lao PDR, and six of the seven districts have priority for UXO clearance. UXO contamination includes the residue of many land battles that were waged throughout the entire period of the Indochina conflict, as well as the remnants of intense aerial bombing from 1964-1973.
UXO LAO commenced working in Xieng Khouang in 1996. Since then, our teams have cleared 1,332 hectares of land and have disposed of more than 168,000 Items of UXO. Community Awareness Teams have visited 828 villages, reach more than 169,000 people.
The Mines Advisory Group (MAG), with the support of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) began clearance activities in Xieng Khouang in May 1994, the first systematic humanitarian response to the problem of UXO contamination in the Lao PDR. They began providing technical assistance to UXO Lao in 1996. Both MAG and UXO Lao ‘ s teams in Xieng Khouang have been funded by the Danish government for a number of years. ‘Phase II’ of this support was due to end in October 2003 but it has been prolonged by a ‘ no-cost ‘ extension agreement until October 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 5 districts, complete 106 tasks clearing over 90 hectares of land in the process
Assistance to specific development projects, implemented by other agencies will include:
22935 square metres for school construction project in Pek district, funded by the Lao Government
Roving Teams will visit 187 villages in Pek, Kham, Nonghed, Khoune, Phookood and Phaxay districts.
The teams will continue with their on-going programme of village visits. In 2004, they intend to visit 94 villages and bring UXO avoidance and risk education messages to 30,267 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 187 villages in the following districts: Pek, Kham, Nonghed, Khoune, Phookood and Phaxay. 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.