Capacity Development for a Safe Land to Use in Lao PDR Villages

Lao
A Laotian technician holds the sample of a UXO that has been removed from the rice paddy field. Photo credit: Ashley Palmer, UNDP.

15 years ago, villagers used to remove and bury the unexploded cluster bombs they found in their paddy field. Today, they do not need to put their lives at risk merely to grow the rice that will feed their families. Thanks to capacity development efforts, villagers now use a system to report and request Unexploded Ordinances (UXO) clearance from their field, through the local government. When the clearance team of professionals’ work is complete, no one will ever again have to fear walking through or cultivating the area.

With UXO contamination covering about 50% of the country’s land area, UXOs in Lao PDR are a cause of food insecurity and poverty and a challenging threat. Since the mid-1990’s, UNDP, together with other partners, has played a major role in the creation and strengthening of the UXO sector in Lao PDR.

Highlights

  • Unexploded Ordinances (UXO) that cover 50% of Lao PDR's land are a cause of food insecurity and poverty
  • Since mid-1990s', UNDP has played a major role in the creation and strengthening of the UXO sector and its capacity development
  • Thousands of paddy fields have been cleared of UXO. Number of accidents has dropped significantly and villagers have improved and equitable access to land, markets and social and economic services

Developing national capacities to address the UXO threat in the country proved a success story that has significantly contributed not only to saving lives but also to increasing the socio-economic opportunities for some of the poorest districts. Capacity development efforts have had many positive impacts on communities and their livelihoods. The establishment of information management and reporting systems prevent duplication of efforts while ensuring that land handed back to the villagers is safe to use. Dedicated teams also circulate the villages to educate both children and adults on mine risks.

Over the past 15 years, thousands of paddy fields, school yards, and community spaces have been cleared of UXO and the number of UXO accidents per year has dropped significantly. With strengthened capacity, UXO Lao enables impacted villagers improved and equitable access to land, markets and social and economic services. UXO clearance ultimately leads to improving the livelihoods of poor, vulnerable, and food insecure populations through sustainable development.

 “Only on the surface – literally and metaphorically – eradicating UXO is about the removal of remains of the past. In reality, clearing UXO is about creating opportunities for the future.”  Minh H. Pham, Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in the Lao PDR.


Related Links

UNDP Lao PDR project page 



Related Document
  • Addressing the UXO Threat in Lao: A Story of Capacity Development English