Development partners of the UXO/Mine Action Sector began a two-day visit to Xiengkhouang Province
November 8, 2023
More than 50 years after the end of the Indochina War, unexploded ordnance (UXO) continues to hinder the development of many rural communities in Lao PDR. To raise awareness and understanding of the ongoing challenges of UXO contamination, the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector (NRA) under the supervision of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), is organizing a field visit for development partners to Xiengkhouang Province, from 8 to 10 November 2023.
Representatives from the development community will have the opportunity to visit affected communities and to observe firsthand the long-term impact of UXO contamination on livelihoods and on the overall socio-economic development of the region. The programme also includes the inauguration of the new staff accommodation and facilities for the UXO Lao Unit in Xiengkhouang and a meeting with UXO Lao field operators whose painstaking and tedious work remains essential to enable communities to live free from the threat of UXO.
His Excellency Mr. Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs is leading the delegation, which arrived in Xiengkhouang in the afternoon of 8 November; UNDP is represented by Mrs. Martine Thérer, Resident Representative in Lao PDR; Representatives from line ministries andfrom the governments of Canada, Ireland, Japan, Luxemburg, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea and the United States of America, as well as representatives of the media are also participating in the visit.
Upon arrival in Xiengkhouang, H.E. Khaykhamphithoune remarked, “Lao PDR is the most heavily bombed country in history per capita. Two-thirds of the nation’s area is covered with UXO, dispersed across various provinces, which continues to threaten the lives of the people and constitutes a strong obstacle to the socio-economy development of rural communities.”.
Welcoming the delegation, Vice Governor of Xiengkhouang province, H.E. Mr. Sivilay Sengchaleun underlined that, “UXO contamination is one of the key challenges of the Province, which hinders its potential for agriculture development, organic farming and tourism”. “We are sincerely grateful for all of the support we received and for your continued concern for the well-being of our province. We are ready to facilitate the coordination with all development partners and look forward to working alongside you in the future.”
Resident Representative of UNDP Lao PDR, Mrs. Martine Thérer highlighted “UNDP is very proud to support the Government of Lao PDR in its efforts to achieve SDG 18 – Lives safe from UXO – and reach the targets set out in the national strategic plan, Safe Path Forward III, 2021-2030.” She thanked development partners for their generous support to the sector and for their commitment to help ensure that as much confirmed hazardous land as possible is cleared before the 2030 SDG deadline so that people can enjoy a live free from fear and fully benefit from development opportunities.
According to the Director General of the NRA, Mr. Chomyaeng Phengthongsawat, “Xiengkhouang is the second most UXO-contaminated province in Lao PDR. As of October 2023, over 186,866 hectares(ha.) of land had been identified as Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHAs) of which 55% (103,245 ha) are in Xiengkhouang”. To date, more than 11,700 ha of CHAs have been cleared in the province.
With support from the international donor community, the NRA has coordinated and regulated the overall management of the UXO sector in the Lao PDR over the past two decades. The field visit is part of the programme entitled “Supporting Effectiveness and Efficiency in the UXO Sector to contribute to the achievement of SDG 18 and Safe Path Forward III2022-2026,” implemented jointly by the Government of Lao PDR and UNDP, with funding from the governments of Canada, Ireland, Luxemburg, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.
For more information, please contact:
Aksonethip Somvorachit, Communications Analyst, UNDP Lao PDR
Telephone: 021 267 778
Mobile: 020 5502 1550
 Safe Path Forward III is the National ten-year strategic plan for the UXO sector (2021-2030) endorsed by Lao government in July 2022.
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