Plastic-free, Climate-friendly: Mekong Boat Race Crew, UN Hit the H20 in Laos
“The recent floods around the country have made it clear; Water is both a life resource and a threatening factor. The Thapha village team, in Vientiane province’s Hadxayfong district, takes a leap towards climate action, in urging us all to stop using single-use plastic bags, cups and bottles, to keep the beautiful Mekong river clean.“
– United Nations in Lao PDR,
October 24, 2018
With the full moon finale to Buddhist Lent Wednesday and annual boat racing events Thursday, Laos and its capital’s downtown riverside are alive with festive fever once again.
In a certain corollary with traditional New Year celebrations in April, water will once again be at the heart of the celebration in the Lao capital.
This time, the precious element will provide centre stage as crews of 20 odd battle for supremacy on the Mekong River in front of cheering multitudes once again.
Sadly, another similarity between this and other festivals will bin the tonnes of waste generated in the form of single-use plastics, some of which will end up in the famed waterway.
Reducing this is toll is a goal shared by policymakers and urban authorities in the capital with support from civil society groups and from the UN and its relevant agencies.
Of course, the boat racing celebrations are a popular release after three lunar months of Lenten “rains retreat” observed in various forms by the ordained monks and novices and a great many lay devotees among the majority Buddhist nation.
Amid celebrations sacred and civil, there is also a time to reflect upon the power of water to give and take.
The flash flooding disaster in Sanamxay district, Attapeu province as a result of a saddle dam collapse was the most damaging and high profile of several weather-related or exacerbated disasters in Laos this year.
Water was a major factor in the disasters that exerted costs on peoples lives. At the same time, water also makes life possible.
At the same time, single-use plastic is choking rivers and oceans, posing the water that we drink. Water-related disasters such as flash floods and tsunami lead not only to human losses but also the release of vasts amounts of plastic and other pollution.
Putting people at the heart of the solutions has seen the UN in Lao PDR put its shoulder behind a crew of rowers from a rural part of the rapidly urbanizing capital to help spread the message of individual and collective climate action and the reduction of single-use plastic, as captured in this video:
The UN in Lao PDR on Facebook writes:
The recent floods around the country have made it clear; Water is both a life resource and a threatening factor.
Climate change exacerbates extreme weather events, and we all have our own stake in climate action.
This year, the United Nations is supporting a boat racing team.
The Thapha village team, in Vientiane province’s Hadxayfong district, takes a leap towards climate action, in urging us all to stop using single-use plastic bags, cups and bottles, to keep the beautiful Mekong river clean.
Come to the river bank in Vientiane tomorrow to root for the Thapha team and a river free of plastic! See you there!”