New UXO support project signed

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Lao PDR’s own national Sustainable Development Goal 18 guides next phase of collaboration between UNDP and UXO sector

Minister of Labour and Social Welfare H.E. Dr. Khampheng Xaysompheng and UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Mr. Balasubramaniam Murali today signed a new project document focusing on enhanced support to livelihoods activities for affected populations, improved efficiency of clearance operations, significant progress in the effort to establish a national baseline of UXO contamination, improved transparency in results reporting and financial reporting, and improved coordination of sector activities through enhanced management of information.

Moving towards achieving SDG 18 - Removing the UXO obstacle to Development in Lao PDR is the title of a new project that the National Regulatory Authority for UXO and Mine Action, the national UXO clearance operator, UXO Lao, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will jointly implement.

The project title refers to Lao PDR’s own national Sustainable Development Goal, SDG18: Lives Safe from UXO, launched in the presence of the Prime Minister of Lao PDR and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during the ASEAN Summit in Vientiane in September 2016. SDG 18 includes targets concerning elimination of casualties, clearance of highly impacted areas and support to health care and livelihoods of UXO victims.

The project builds on UNDP’s 20-year experience in the UXO sector in Lao PDR, having been instrumental in establishing both UXO Lao in 1996 and the National Regulatory Authority in 2005.

In total, during the past 20 years of its work, UXO Lao has cleared 36,800 hectares of land for safe use, destroying more than 1.4 million pieces of different types of UXO. This new project will concentrate on the clearance of the most contaminated provinces, supporting a new, evidence-based survey methodology to focus clearance on high-risk areas. This new approach has resulted in a four-fold increase in the number of UXO cleared per hectare of land already.

UXO clearance will be prioritised and facilitated by the establishment of a national baseline of UXO contamination. Transparency, standardisation and an improved policy for the support of victims will be further objectives of the project, which includes a component for new partnerships on gender.

The new project comprises a financial envelope of USD 84 million and will be funded via UNDP to the project or directly from bilateral donors to the NRA and UXO Lao. As of the date of signature, Australia, the European Union, Ireland, KOICA, Luxembourg and New Zealand will contribute to the project via UNDP, while Japan and the United States of America are providing bilateral funding to project activities. These contributions will bring Lao PDR closer to achieving SDG 18 by 2030, however at the signing ceremony H.E. Dr. Khampheng Xaysompheng stressed the need for continued support from all donors to the UXO Sector to realize SGD 18 targets and to meet the substantial funding gap. The project duration is set until the end of 2021.