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Laos prepares to weather climate change storm

Publication Date : 26-10-2012


The Laos government is putting in place measures to help to manage potential natural disasters as fears over the effects of global climate change continue to grow.

Speaking at the 5th Asian Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction in Yogyakarta on Tuesday, Vice Chair of Laos' National Disaster Management Committee Sommad Pholsena said he was growing increasingly concerned that natural disasters could become a more regular occurrence because of global climate change.

“But with the global warming and climate change we feel there is no rescue from natural disasters,” Sommad, who is the Lao Minister of Public Works and Transport, said addressing the High Level Round Table I meeting.

The meeting sought to highlight key issues surrounding climate change in the region and discuss preventative methods for the future.

As a landlocked country Laos has suffered significantly fewer natural disasters than its neighbours over the past century, but as the impact of climate change becomes more apparent, more is being done to protect the country in the coming years.

Along with many c ountries in the region, Laos has made significant progress in the implementation of the National Strategic Plan on Disaster Risk Management. Efforts have been carried out in line with the Hyogo Framework of Action and the Asea n Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.

Despite seeing a disaster rate less than many other cou ntries in the world, this is not to say Laos has not has suffered. Floods, drought, landslides and disease epidemics have all had devastating consequences for the peop le of Laos in recent years.

In particular, the country was severely impacted by flooding caused by typhoons Ketsana in 2009 and Haima and Nock-Ten in 2011. About 40 people lost their lives and over 100,000 others were affected. The flood damage to buildings totaled around US$100 million.

Disaster risk reduction has b een integrated into the current 7th National Socio-economic Development Plan for 2011-2015 to ensure every step of development and investment processes are protected from natural disasters and to avoid vulnerability in the event of a disaster. One such example is the urban planning la w, which is currently being revised to incorporate disaster risk reduction.

The Lao government has implemented policy that empowers local administration at all levels to focus on macro-management of issues, such as strategic planning for development of respective sectors, drafting legislation, human resource development, and audit control and inspection to ensure efficient governance.

Sommad said work is also being done at the grassroots level, with natural disaster education being taught in schools across the country.

“Disaster risk reduction has been integrated into the curriculums of many schools in Laos. School safety guidelines have been developed and disseminated.”

Community risk assessment planning and village disaster reduction planning has been carried out to raise awareness and encourage cooperation.

To ensure the plans for disaster risk reduction are as effective as possible, Sommad said government sectors, development partners and the relevant organisations need to work closelywith one another and the public.


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