Two tropical storms and sustained heavy rainfalls during July, August and September 2018 have affected 16 out of 17 provinces as well as the capital, including an estimated 90 districts, 1,800 villages and 107,000 households to date. Around 18,000 people have been evacuated from their villages, and 1,658 houses have collapsed. The most affected provinces are Attapeu, Khammouane, Savannakhet and Champasak.
Agriculture and thus livelihoods have been severely affected. Over 101,000 hectares of paddy field have been damaged, 7,400 ha of crop area are flooded, and a large number of livestock has been lost, including 21,000 large animals and 54,000 poultry. Irrigation systems have been heavily damaged.
An Inter-Agency Standing Committee meeting took place on 31 August in Vientiane, highlighting the need to better coordinate between the Government and its humanitarian partners, between central and local level, and between sectors/clusters. As discussed at the Inter-Agency Standing Committee meeting, the Government has requested for United Nations, World Bank and European Union to support a Post-Disaster Needs Assessment across Lao PDR, which is being consulted between the Government and key partners. The coordination of ongoing rapid assessments remains critical. While there is increasing information on Attapeu province, the Government is lacking information on the priority needs in other provinces.
The Humanitarian Country Team has launched a Disaster Response Plan requesting US$ 5.6 million to provide life-saving assistance and recovery services to the 13,100 affected people in Sanamxay District. The requirements are expected to increase as the plan is expanded to cover the entire country. To date, US$ 2.2 million have been pledged towards the plan. An application to the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is expected to be made should the Government request support to the emergency response across the country. A Cash Transfer Working Group has been activated and is now looking at the standardization of cash for work programmes and cash transfer activities.
Across the country, seasonal rains continue and are affecting the living conditions of people. More than 10,000 km of roads, including 14 provincial highways and 15 bridges, have been damaged. In addition, 107 schools have been damaged, and 14 are currently being used as emergency shelters. Ministry of Education and Sports is working closely with international partners to ensure education continuity for all the children living in the flood-affected areas. 13 health centers have been damaged.
In Attapeu, rain continues to pose challenges to relief and recovery operations, as well as transportation infrastructure and access. Some of the camps are currently overcrowded, with privacy limitations. People have therefore started setting up tents around the camps and along roads, exposing them to additional mud and rain, hindering heavy vehicles from passing through and obstructing the construction of key infrastructure. According to the Government, as of 4 September, 200 tents are required in addition to the 850 tents already set up. Proper site planning and camp management, including of the four temporary shelters currently being constructed or in planning, thus continues to be a high priority.
Disease outbreaks continue to pose a real risk and measures are being taken in this regard, including provision of clean water and sanitation, cholera vaccinations and awareness raising on handwashing with soap. Two ad-hoc working groups on cholera and diarrhea are being coordinated by Ministry of Health.
Three emergency shelters in Attapeu – Pindong, Tamayod and Ban Bok – are still hard to reach due to the conditions of the roads, however it is reported that all three camps are currently accessible by 4x4 vehicle. If the rain resumes it is expected the villages will again be cut off. The situation in the remote camps remains particularly challenging. Access to water, sanitation services and electricity for instance is limited.
The international community, including the United Nations, the Red Cross, INGOs and Non-Profit Association partners continue to support the Government’s ongoing relief efforts. Relief items provided to date include tents, mosquito nets, light bulbs, kitchen utensils, water filters, water pumps, water purification tablets, buckets, boats, family hygiene kits, blankets, female hygiene kits, tool kits, rice and other dried foods, canned fish, noodles, drinking water, safe delivery kits as well as screening for malnutrition and emergency first aid and other health services. There are currently four child friendly spaces operating, which are being considered as locations for interim schooling.
Current response priorities continue to be the provision of food and cooking utensils; clean drinking water; housing kits, family kits and hygiene kits; health support; shelter; and the rehabilitation of infrastructure, including roads and bridges. The needs are particularly high in Attapeu, especially in the camps outside Sanamxay City. Storekeeping and distribution remain challenges. There are concerns that the host communities will require support in addition to those displaced, as many families who still live in their own houses have however lost their livelihoods and would be in equal need of assistance. There are no pressing food security concerns for now, but it remains important to constantly monitor the situation of the affected population.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.