Supporting Effectiveness and Efficiency in the UXO Sector to contribute to the achievement of SDG 18 and Safe Path Forward III
The project aims to strengthen development-focused land clearance and other activities, including survey and clearance of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO), Victim Assistance (VA), explosive ordnance risk education (EORE), and advocacy, in support of achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 18 and implementing Safe Path Forward III 2021-2030 (SPF III), the current ten-year UXO sector strategic plan for Lao PDR. The project focuses on the realization of rights for communities to live and develop free from the threat of UXO. The project will achieve this through support to the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR (NRA), with particular focus on the following objectives: high priority land release, to better coordination, prioritization and monitoring of UXO/mine action activities, driving achievement of SDG 18, implementation of SPF III, and compliance with the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
Fifty years after the Paris Peace Accords (1973) formally ended the conflict in Lao PDR, UXO remains a major humanitarian and socioeconomic challenge to Lao PDR. Every year, UXO cause deaths and injuries, limit access to potentially productive land, and add substantial costs to the process of development.
The Government of Lao PDR has been active in the UXO clearance since shortly after the conflict ended. Lao PDR has advocated for the CCM and embraced the UXO issue as a key development matter by establishing Lao PDR’s country-specific SDG, SDG18: “Lives Safe from UXO.”
UNDP support to the UXO sector in Lao PDR is focused on the following:
- Strengthening the capacity and technical competency of the NRA to oversee and direct the sector in pursuance of national strategic goals and achieving SDG 18 in compliance with the CCM.
- Providing financial and programmatic support for survey and clearance to the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao) and the Humanitarian teams of the Lao People’s Army (Unit 58) to hasten progress towards clearance of high-priority land in impacted communities.
- UXO clearance, in combination with risk education activities, helped reduce the number of casualties to 20 in 2022, thereby reaching the national target of less than 38 casualties per year.
- According to the NRA Operations Dashboard as of May 2023, 28 humanitarian teams of the national UXO operators supported by UNDP surveyed 3,161 ha and cleared 727 ha of high-priority land in three provinces including Bolikhamxay, Vientiane, Xiengkhouang provinces. Efforts were made to put the restored UXO-contaminated lands to more productive use. As a result, 36,706 people in these three provinces can now safely access and use their land for farming and income-generating activities.
- In 2023, Unit 58 established two new Non-Technical Survey (NTS)/EORE teams with support from the Government of the Republic of Korea. Also, three UXO Lao clearance teams began operations in Khammouane province for a new project funded by Luxembourg to directly integrate UXO clearance with LuxDev local development activities in the province.
- NRA’s Quality Management unit was expanded from two to four teams in order to strengthen the quality management capacity of the Lao government. Thanks to the recruitment of two new QM teams, 10 people were newly employed and trained.
- SPF III and the Prime Minister’s Decree on UXO/Mine Action (GoL/210) were finalized and endorsed in 2022 under the leadership of the NRA. These policy documents provide clear strategic guidance and government policy regulation for the sector.
- In 2023, the NRA and UNDP jointly produced several knowledge products to assess project activities and guide sector-wide best practices. A Post Clearance Impact Assessment report has been published and is available online from both UNDP and the NRA’s websites. The reports resulting from a Gender Analysis of the UXO Sector and a Knowledge, Attitude, and Practice (KAP) Survey related to UXO risk education have been finalized and will be published in Q3, 2023.
The project aims to
- Release more high-priority land for socio-economic development.
- Reduce community exposure to the UXO threat and meet victims’ rights.
The main project outputs include
- Prioritized survey and clearance enable more land to be released from UXO/mines.
- Reduced risk-taking behaviour by at-risk groups.
- Improved capacity of the NRA in strategic direction for the sector, supervision (oversight, monitoring, quality management), data use, and resource-mobilization—including discourse on alternative financing modalities.
- A stronger legislative environment supporting CCM compliance and hastening prioritized land release and other UXO-related services for communities.
GESI (Gender Equality & Social Inclusion) component :
UNDP advocates for mainstreaming inclusion (including gender, disability, and ethnicity) in the UXO sector by driving equity in the implementation of the UXO programme. Careful consideration will be given to the engendered nature of UXO victims, the roles and needs of women and men in land clearance processes, risk education, and victims' assistance. Furthermore, the project will work to ensure that linguistic and cultural differences in the Lao population are accounted for and that the voices of persons with disabilities are actively sought and valued in planning processes and community consultations.
- Status: Active
- Start Date: April 2022
- End Date: December 2026
- Project Office: UNDP Lao PDR, NRA and UXO Lao
- Focus Area: Achieving SDG 18: “Lives safe from UXO” and implementation of Safe Path Forward III (2021-2030)
- Collaborating Partners: NRA, UXO Lao, Unit 58, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, Ministry of National Defense, The Government of the Republic of Korea, The Government of New Zealand, The Government of Ireland, The Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, The Government of Canada
- Total budget: US$ 25million (US$18.3 million mobilized as of May 2023)