A kick-off meeting to launch a new UXO clearance project funded by the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg was officially held on 9 March in Khammouane province.
The meeting took place in Lungkhang village, Boualapha district, between the Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao), the Embassy of Luxembourg, LuxDevelopment, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The project was designed to amplify the impact of UXO clearance by integrating UXO clearance into local development planning. Accordingly, area clearance activities by UXO Lao will prioritize clearing the land designated for development support from Luxembourg Aid & Development that reflects the local communities’ development priorities.
Line ministries at a central level from Vientiane, local authorities in Khammouane, and representatives from the Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency (LuxDev), as well as UXO Lao Khammouane, were present at the meeting. Mr. Anousak Phongsa, National Programme Director of UXO Lao emphasized “Khammouane province is the fourth most UXO contaminated province in the country, and the contamination slows the socio-economic development in the villages”. He expressed his sincere appreciation to the Government of Luxembourg and UNDP for providing support to the people in Khammouane province.
Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of Luxembourg to Laos, said “Luxembourg also has lots of UXO contamination from the war, so we are fully aware of the issue and sympathize with how tragic it is. We are very glad to find the opportunity to further continue our support of the UXO sector in Laos and find synergies between our different development cooperation programs.”
The meeting presented UXO Lao’s work plan and related LuxDev’s local development project in Khammouane, followed by field visits to Soppeng, Thakachan, and Nyavet villages – an opportunity to introduce local officials to the projects, providing participants with a first-hand understanding of the communities who will benefit from this support, and to ensure effective coordination among all parties involved.
Ms. Minyoung Kim, UXO portfolio manager of the UNDP Lao country office, said, “UXO clearance will prepare the region for local development which LuxDev will support. Such an integrated approach between UXO clearance operation and local development will boost the socio-economic development by increasing agricultural productivity and accelerating the development infrastructure construction, including schools, health and community centers in the region.”
The project, titled “Support Effectiveness and Efficiency in the UXO Sector to contribute to the achievement of SDG 18 and Safe Path Forward III (SPF III) and UXO Lao Operations in Khammouane Province”, will last from 2022 to 2024 and has a total budget of EUR 1 million.