Lao PDR: Floods DREF Operation No. MDRLA001 Update No. 02

Situation Report
Originally published


The International Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is a source of un-earmarked money created by the Federation in 1985 to ensure that immediate financial support is available for Red Cross and Red Crescent response to emergencies. The DREF is a vital part of the International Federation's disaster response system and increases the ability of national societies to respond to disasters.

Period covered by this update: 30 September to 4 November 2008.

Summary: CHF 200,000 (USD 176,404 or EUR 129,528) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) to support Lao Red Cross in delivering assistance to 8,0001 beneficiaries. Un-earmarked funds to replenish DREF are encouraged.

The Mekong River reached its highest peak in 100 years during August 2008, causing damage to houses, nfrastructure, and agricultural land. This DREF allocation was used to support 1,656 households in the worst a affected areas with relief food items and hygiene kits. This operation is expected to be completed by November 2008. In line with the International Federation reporting standards, the final report (narrative and financial) is due by 28 February 2009.

Support for this DREF operation has been received from Netherlands Red Cross, Danish Red Cross, and the French Red Cross through a grant from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Directorate General (ECHO).

The situation

Typhoon Kammuri lingered over northern Lao PDR for several days in August, causing the Mekong River to exceed historically high levels on 15 August, reported to be the worst in 100 years. The government of Lao PDR appealed for international assistance on 25 August and a rapid assessment of the impact and needs by the inter-agency standing committee (IASC) and the Lao government was conducted on 21-29 August, in which Lao Red Cross (LRC) staff participated. The areas worst affected are the provinces of Luangphrabang, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Khammuane, Vientiane and Borikhamxai, and the capital city of Vientiane. It is estimated that a total of 204,190 people in some 866 villages of 53 districts across the country have been affected by the floods. Fortunately, fears of a second major flooding have proven unfounded, despite this occurring regularly in the past.

The flood-affected areas are Lao PDR's most productive and these normally supply rice for the rest of the country. Damage to the agricultural infrastructure, assets, and crops has been severe, compromising food production and affecting the availability and access to food during the ensuing season. This, compounded by rising food prices, may have severe implications for national and household food security, both in the short and longer term. The loss of livelihood opportunities may further restrict access to food, which is already limited for many vulnerable households, by high food prices.