Vientiane – September 19, 2008: Disease, malnutrition and loss of livelihoods are among the threats facing hundreds of communities hit by recent floods in Lao PDR, according to the Government of Lao PDR and the United Nations, as it appealed for nearly $ 10 million in urgent humanitarian aid.
Over 200,000 people in eleven provinces lost farmland, infrastructure and homes when the river Mekong and many of its tributaries burst their banks following torrential rains in mid-August. Provinces in the north and centre of the country, including areas close to the capital, Vientiane, were the worst hit as the Mekong rose to levels not seen in a century.
“The floods of August 2008 pose a serious mid- to long-term threat to the health, food security, welfare and livelihoods especially of the poorest communities affected by them,” said the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms Sonam Yangchen Rana.
“Families who were already close to the poverty borderline risk being pushed under due to the loss of rice paddy, food stocks and other assets. Care-givers who already struggled to ensure their children received a sufficiently nutritious diet will find the task even harder.”
Ms Yangchen Rana noted that even though flooding is a regular phenomenon in Lao PDR, the consequences of this year’s record floods had dealt a severe blow to the development prospects of a large part of the country.
A Rapid Needs Assessment conducted by the government, the United Nations and other partners identified the priorities for immediate humanitarian and early recovery action. The most immediate needs identified by the Rapid Assessment are:
– Clean drinking water and sanitation
– Food supplies
– Essential medicines and primary health care
– Emergency replacement seeds
– Immunization and surveillance for disease outbreaks and nutrition status
The Joint Appeal proposes 15 projects in eight sectors, submitted by United Nations agencies in partnership with the Government of Lao PDR and other development partners.
The Appeal requests a total amount of US$ 9,945,998, to provide immediate resources to support the Government in addressing key humanitarian and essential early recovery needs of the affected population over the next twelve months.
The United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) has already provided US$ 2,024,378 as a jump start for immediate activities in priority sectors including Health and Nutrition, Water and Sanitation, Food Security and Agriculture, Protection, and Education.
The United Nations seeks the urgent support of the international donor community for this Joint Appeal in this time of crisis and recovery for Laos. The humanitarian impact of this disaster must be urgently addressed. The Joint Appeal will ensure that the response is effectively coordinated amongst humanitarian partners and the Government, and that the most affected and vulnerable receive the assistance and protection they need to restore their lives.