Background of UXO in Laos
Lao PDR is the most heavily bombed country in the world. More than forty years after the end of the 1964-1973 Indochina Conflict, unexploded ordnance (UXO) remains a major humanitarian and socio-economic challenge to the country, causing deaths and injuries, limiting access to potentially productive land and adding substantial costs to processes of development. The Government of Lao PDR has been active in the process of clearance since shortly after the conflict. Lao PDR has advocated for the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) and hosted the first Meeting of States Parties in 2010. It also embraced the UXO issue as a key development matter by locally establishing the Sustainable Development Goal 18 (SDG18), “Remove the UXO obstacle to national development”.
The Lao Government established the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao) with the support of UNDP, UNICEF, and other stakeholders through Prime Minister’s Decree Number 49, dated 13 February 1996, working under the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare. Until beginning of 2013, UXO Lao was transferred from Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to the National Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication. But at the beginning of 2016, UXO Lao was transferred from the National Committee for Rural Development and Poverty Eradication back to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare.
The current National Strategic Plan for the UXO Sector in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic 2011 – 2020, “The Safe Path Forward II” (SPFII), details that the goal of the Government and its development partners over the 2011 -2020 period is to reduce the humanitarian and socio-economic threats posed by UXO to the point where the residual contamination and challenges can be adequately addressed by a sustainable national capacity fully integrated into the regular institutional set-up of the Government.
UXO Lao maintains its national office in Vientiane. It operates in nine of the most UXO impacted provinces in the country (Huaphan, Luangprabang, Xiengkhuang, Khammuane, Savannakhet, Salavan, Sekong, Champasak and Attapeu). In every province, the provincial office works closely with their respective Provincial Department of Labor and Social Welfare coordinates with other departments such as health, education, agriculture, and forestry for work planning purposes.
UXO Lao Achievements
Mine Risk Education task
Conducted UXO Risk Education activities in over 13,700 villages, reaching more than 4,100,000 audiences (including more than 1,700,000 children).
Cleared over 48,800 hectares of land, including 43,000 hectares for agriculture and 5,800 hectares for other development projects.
Confirmed Hazardous Areas (CHA) clearance task
Established more than 4,500 sites of Confirmed Hazardous Area (CHA), covering more than 39,000 hectares of CHA, including more than 37,900 hectares for agricultural land and more than 1,100 hectares of land for other development purposes.
Total UXO destroyed (through roving / clearance task)
Destroyed more than 1,750,000 UXO items, of which, over 900,000 items were cluster munitions, and more than 800,000 items were other types of UXO including aircraft bombs, landmines and other munitions).
Non-Technical Survey task
Conducted 22,803 survey tasks for collecting information of all UXO-related data on a village by village basis to identify UXOs’ coordinates, and mapping out UXO in 3,784 villages.
Conducted more than 34,000 roving tasks, removed or destroyed UXO found on the surface in more than 4,000 villages.
UXO Lao and the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR (NRA)
The Lao Government established the National Regulatory Authority for UXO/Mine Action Sector in Lao PDR (NRA) in 2004 along with the adoption of the National Strategic Plan for the UXO sector. The NRA is responsible for the coordination and regulation of the UXO/mine action sector in the country, including the planning, tasking and monitoring of all UXO/mine action activities in the country. UXO Lao actively takes part in different Technical Working Groups (TWGs) organized by the NRA aimed at coordinating and planning all clearance, mine risk education, and victim assistance activities, as well as sharing best practices and experiences.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provides program oversight and program assurance, both substantive and financial, through its own UXO Unit as well as through the provision of the Senior Technical Advisor, the Programme Technical Advisor, and a field based EOD Technical Advisor. It raises funds for UXO Lao and manages such funds through costsharing agreements. Funds channelled through UNDP follow UNDP’s rules and regulations. In addition, UNDP assists UXO Lao in the following key management functions:
Quarterly financial monitoring of the project, both in terms of progress of activities and expenditures and of conformity of activities with stated mandate and work plans;
Contracting for yearly external financial and management audits of UXO Lao, with full reporting to donors and other stakeholders, thereby confirming full accountability and transparency of UXO Lao accounts and practices;
Provision of a coordination mechanism for donors, and between donors and the Government of Lao PDR, in order to ensure that support to the UXO programme is channelled as and where it is put to best use for the ends of the programme;
Procurement needs of UXO Lao.