New project to strengthen disaster risk management in Lao PDR

Vientiane 7 October 2013 – Development of a disaster management law, establishing a national disaster management information system and installing early warning systems in two districts will be some of the key outcomes of a new United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) -supported project launched today in Vientiane.

Government officials and development partners working in the field of disaster management and climate change gathered at the National Convention Center to review the overview and plans for the “Integrated Disaster and Climate Risk Management (IDCRM)” project. The two-day consultation is being chaired by Dr Akhom Tounalom, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and Ms. Kyoko Yokosuka, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP.

Laos has been identified as the 42nd most vulnerable country in the world to climate change.  This is due to the country’s sensitivity and exposure to climate-related hazards such as floods and draughts and the high proportion of subsistence farmers without alternative livelihoods resulting in a low coping capacity to deal with the ill-effects of weather extremes.

The Deputy Minister Akhom Tounalom emphasized that the project was a priority project for the Government of Lao PDR due in particular to the more frequently occurring disasters and flooding the country is experiencing. “The last few months have seen serious flooding in Oudomxay and Champasak causing significant loss of lives and assets. We need to pay increased attention to disaster management”, he reminded.

Ms. Yokosuka from UNDP said: “Building resilient nations is at the core of UNDP’s mission, and the ultimate aim of this project is to enhance the coping capacity at not only at national, but also at a community level to the changing weather conditions.”

The new project, which builds on an earlier UNDP-supported initiative that ran from 2010 to 2012, will aim to further strengthen the overall disaster risk management system in Lao PDR by linking it closely with climate change adaptation issues. One of the key outcomes will include drafting of a Disaster Risk Management Law for Lao PDR, which will empower the National Disaster Prevention and Control  Committee and the newly-established Department of Disaster Management and Climate Change (DDMCC), within the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), to effectively lead the disaster risk management agenda in Lao PDR. The project is expected to lead to an improved disaster management and recovery system in Xayaboury and Xekong provinces, which were heavily affected by tropical Storm Haima in 2011.

The first phase of the new programme will run for three years until 2015 and it will be managed by Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Department of Disaster Management and Climate Change.

Source: UNDP. Date: October 7, 2013