Laos, Turkey partner on UXO risk education, disaster preparedness

VIENTIANE, July 20 (The Vientiane Times/ANN): The governments of Laos and Turkey have teamed up for the ongoing ‘Strengthening Early Warning Systems and incorporating UXO Risk Education in Laos’ project.

Turkey has provided funding of approximately US$100,000 for the project, which is being carried out within the context of the Turkey-UNDP Partnership in Development Programme.

Turkey’s Ambassador to Laos, Ahmet Idem Akay recently visited newly-appointed Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Padeumphone Sonthany, together with UNDP senior representatives, including UNDP Resident Representative, Ricarda Rieger, to discuss the ongoing project, supported by the Turkey government through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

According to a press release from UNDP, Ambassador Akay said that “Turkey attaches high importance to global development cooperation at both the bilateral and multilateral level for the least developed countries.”

The project commenced earlier this year, provides instrumental support to both the Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) and Disaster Preparedness and Response Division, and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery sectors, under the purview of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and with support from UNDP.

The target provinces benefitting from this support are Borikhamxay and Saravan which are not only affected by flooding but also by UXO contamination.

The project aims to simultaneously strengthen the early warning text messaging system in these flood-affected areas while also increasing local knowledge about the dangers of UXO and how to avoid them.

Explaining the rationale behind the project concept, Rieger said that “certain risks can be avoided and lives can be saved if we are prepared, including the risks associated with disasters, UXO and even with the Covid-19 pandemic itself”.

As a result, new partnerships have been formed with telco companies ETL, Lao Telecom, Tplus and Unitel to assist with dissemination of early warning text messages and calls.

Additionally, the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will be providing essential weather forecasting, which can be life-saving to individuals living in these areas prone to flooding.

To raise awareness of the threats posed by UXO and to inform locals of the Confirmed Hazardous areas, the National Regulatory Authority of the UXO/Mine Action Sector in Laos (NRA) is engaging with Lao Youth Union volunteers at district and local levels.

The NRA will train the volunteers in how to conduct UXO Risk Education, as well as equip them with the essential education materials to disseminate to villagers and young school children. - Vientiane Times/Asian News Network

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