Category Archives: Weather

Haze of Smog Hovers over Laos’ Capital, Citizens Concerned about Health Risks

Smog Descends upon Laos

An unhealthy haze of smog has descended upon the capital city of Vientiane and air pollution has been noted in several other provinces around Laos.

Concerned local and international residents have been monitoring the situation, posting online their own amateur updates on the local levels of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) using measuring devices.

These measurements tell a similar tale. Air quality in the past few days appears to have reached dangerous levels for human health.

While the Lao government has not yet made any announcement regarding the smog, the Laotian Times office was able to contact the Pollution Management Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

According to officials at the department, unhealthy levels of pollution have been detected. However,  they state it is expected that within two or three days the situation will have improved.

Condominiums at That Luang Marsh SEZ almost invisible due to smog

Condominiums at That Luang Marsh SEZ almost invisible due to smog

The major source of the smog is said to be a forest fire in Sangthong District, Vientiane Capital, which has now been extinguished.

Lao citizens and foreign residents alike have voiced concerns about the smog, and social media has been flooded with information of varying reliability.

Many have taken to purchasing their own air quality reading devices, and many have looked to Thai websites for information on how best to deal with the problem at home.

It follows a famous case of dangerous smog that was reported in Bangkok this February, with schools closing and workplaces shut down due to particulate matter levels at PM2.5 (referring to particularly dangerous particulates measuring 2.5 micron in diameter or less).

Thailand’s Chiang Mai has also been hit with smog this month and was forced to ground flights, and was believed to be world’s most polluted city in terms of air quality for three days running.

This situation was monitored closely by people in Laos, who have raised questions as to why schools and workplaces have not been given any instructions by the authorities here.

Meanwhile, the possibility of rain over the next few days could provide some respite for the capital, if not the other provinces depending on where it falls.

Photo: Aleqs Log

Risk-Informed Development Road to Reducing Hazards Threatening Lives in Climate Change Age

Disaster Risk Reduction

“Hazards are not disasters (yet) they can wreak havoc and become disasters when people are vulnerable.

“Risk-informed development planning can ensure that vulnerability to natural hazards is minimized.”

This was the message as news media in Laos carried an opinion piece to mark International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction and the ASEAN Disaster Management Day on October 13 inked by the United Nations, European Union and World Bank.

It comes just a week after the landmark 2018 report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released on Monday. The report revealed the latest forecasts on a future expected to see the intensity and regularity of extreme weather events on the rise.

“This year’s theme of “Reducing disasters’ economic losses” is more relevant than ever, and a key agenda item for Lao PDR,” the article read.

The call to understand the true costs of disasters was previously reported by the Laotian Times in an article entitled “Counting the Costs: Disaster Needs in Laos Accumulate as Gov, UN, EU, WB Calculate Impacts in September.

Read the opinion piece for International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction in full below…

———-

Risk-informed Development

Assessing damages, losses and needs following a disaster

is the first step towards preventing and reducing

the impact of future natural hazards

by UN in Lao PDR, World Bank in Laos, EU in Laos

“We mark the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction and the ASEAN Disaster Management Day every year on 13 October.

In Lao PDR – in the aftermath of tropical storms Sontinh and Bebinca and floods across all provinces – this day gives us an opportunity to raise awareness on disaster risk reduction, while securing and sustaining the participation of all.

This year’s theme of “Reducing disasters’ economic losses” is more relevant than ever, and a key agenda item for Lao PDR.

One of the three criteria for the country’s graduation from Least Developed Country status by 2024 is the Economic Vulnerability Index, which measures resilience to shocks and instability. There are concrete opportunities for Lao PDR to achieve this target by making disaster risk reduction an integral part of its development trajectory.

We jointly support this ambitious goal by working in close partnership with national and international stakeholders, as well as local communities.

Building back better

After a disaster, the primary focus is on how to respond to the needs of the affected communities and recover quickly and effectively. Reconstruction needs to be aligned with the principles of building back better, not only to ensure that livelihoods can be restored quickly but also to reduce the risks of future disasters. Doing so ensures that people are better equipped and better prepared to withstand shocks.

Global evidence shows that when countries rebuild stronger, faster and more inclusively, they can reduce the magnitude of the impact of future disasters on people’s livelihoods. During disaster recovery and reconstruction, risk management can be integrated across many sectors. Examples include implementing climate-resilient agricultural practices, reinforcing critical infrastructure, integrating risk management into investment decisions and budgets, and strengthening risk reduction policies.

Cooperation and innovation for response and recovery

Before reconstruction can start, it is crucial to assess damages, losses and needs, including the resources needed for the recovery phase. The Government of Lao PDR launched a nationwide Post-Disaster Needs Assessment on September 24th to inform the development of a Disaster Recovery Framework. This framework ensures that the response phase links up with early-, medium-, and long-term recovery activities and facilitates coordinated support from the international community, civil society, and the private sector.

The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment follows a well-tested methodology developed by the United Nations Development Group, the World Bank and the European Commission, and underpins cooperation mechanisms between agencies with complementary capacities.

It includes innovative approaches – such as satellite imagery to collect “big data” that can allow rapid geographic and spatial analysis.

The process is led by the Government out of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and is inclusive of all stakeholders, including vulnerable social and ethno-cultural groups.

Risk-informed development

The shared goal is for Lao PDR to better address and contain the impact of future disasters.

Reaching this objective requires better integrating risk management into vulnerable sectors, strengthening preparedness and exploring innovative financial solutions, such as disaster risk insurance mechanisms.

Investing in resilience pays off at multiple levels: it saves lives and reduces the magnitude of destruction and losses. It also generates co-benefits, such as improving the quality of development and promoting sustainable approaches to tackle the impact of climate change.

The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment field work is currently underway across the country, with focus on the hardest hit provinces. Findings are expected by the end of October and will inform high-level discussions on both national planning and international development assistance.

Hazards are not disasters. They can wreak havoc and become disasters when people are vulnerable. However, risk-informed development planning can ensure that vulnerability to natural hazards is minimized. This, in turn, will increase the resilience of the people of Lao PDR, so that tragedies of recent extent are contained to the extent possible.”

This article was co-authored by the United Nations in Lao PDR, the World Bank Lao PDR and the Delegation of the European Union to the Lao PDR.

Ms Kaarina Immonen

Ms. Kaarina Immonen is the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations in Lao PDR and the UN Development Programme’s Resident Representative. Ms. Immonen started her career in the UN in 1991 and has been serving in the Lao PDR since 2014.

Mr. Nicola Pontara

World Bank’s Mr. Nicola Pontara is Country Manager for Lao PDR. He joined the World Bank in 2000, and has been based in Lao PDR since July of this year. Mr. Pontara holds a PhD in Economics from the University of London (SOAS).Mr Leo Faber

Mr. Leo Faber is the first resident Ambassador of the European Union to the Lao PDR and has been serving since 2016. Mr. Faber holds a Master’s degrees in Sinology, Classical and Modern Chinese Philology, and European History.

 

Typhoon Mangkhut Skirts Laos Following Phils, HK, China Landfalls

Typhoon Mangkhut via Goole Maps

Typhoon Mangkhut is on track to miss Laos after tracking data Monday morning had the destructive storm headed roughly West-North-West from Hong Kong towards South-West China.

Nonetheless, residents and visitors to northern and central regions of Laos should remain on alert for heavy downpours on Monday and Tuesday according to the Lao Meteorology and Hydrology Department.

With the storm proceeding over China’s Yunnan province, the result of heavy rainfall in the Mekong-Lancang catchment could cause water levels to rise downstream.

It comes after the severe storm system impacted parts of The Philippines, as well as Hong Kong SAR and the mainland of China with ferocious winds and storm surges seen late last week and over the weekend, leading to loss of life and property that is still being estimated.

According to the Hong Kong Meteorological Observatory, Typhoon Mangkhut will move across the inland area of southern China and weaken gradually today and tomorrow.

Follow the storm’s progress via Google at https://google.org/crisismap/google.com/2018-mangkhut

More information at World Meterological Organization (WMO).

Tropical Storm Son-tinh to Hit China, Vietnam and Laos

After passing over Hainan, Tropical Storm Son-tinh has its sights set on China and northern parts of Vietnam and Laos in the coming days.

As this storm tracks westward, the greatest risk for flooding and local damaging winds will increase from northern Vietnam and Laos late Wednesday into Thursday.

Mudslides may further endanger lives and property in the mountains.

Flooding rainfall will be the most widespread threat as rainfall of 75-150 mm (3-6 inches) will be widespread from Hainan into northern Vietnam and Laos. This includes the Vietnam capital of Hanoi and the Lao capital of Vientiane. Hardest-hit areas can expect rainfall amounts up to 250 mm (10 inches).

According to the Lao Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, the most affected areas in Laos include Khammouane, Bolikhamxay, Xaysomboun, Vientiane, Xiengkhouang, Sayaboury and Luang Prabang.

The extent of the risk for damaging winds will hinge on how strong the storm becomes. Interaction with Hainan will likely hinder overall strengthening and limit damaging winds to areas near and along the path of the storm.

Areas at risk for damaging winds include areas in Vietnam between Vinh and Thanh Hoa late Wednesday into Thursday.

Son-tinh will weaken as it moves farther inland, ending the threat for any damaging winds before the storm reaches northern Laos.

Rough seas will also be stirred and create dangers for boaters as the storm churns across the South China Sea and Gulf of Tonkin.

The storm was named Henry in the Philippines where it produced heavy rainfall across parts of Luzon earlier this week.

All residents at risk for impacts from this budding storm are urged to closely monitor its progress. Be sure to follow the advice of local government and heed any evacuation orders in the coming days. Keep gas tanks filled and mobile phones fully charged.

The Meteorology and Hydrology Department has issued a warning to all citizens to prepare for the storm

 

Source: Accuweather

Hailstorms Pummel Vientiane Capital, Major Power Outages Citywide

Hail storm in Vientiane Capital

A fierce tropical storm ravaged its way across the nation yesterday, bringing some relief from the scorching weather, but causing widespread damage due to strong winds and hail.

Hailstorms hit many parts of southeastern Vientiane, inundating homes and penetrating rooftops. Hailstones as large as ice cubes were noted by some surprised residents, which ripped through trees and pummeled traffic.

Many cars were left waiting out the storm by the side of the road.

Widespread electricity cuts and power outages were experienced in four districts of the nation’s capital, including Saysettha, Sikhottabong, Sisattanak and Naxaythong districts.

In some areas, power cables were cut or utilities poles were blown down by strong winds, while technicians from Electricite du Laos (EDL) rushed to the scene.

Construction materials fall on a utility pole

Construction materials fall on a utility pole

 

A utility pole blown down by the storm. Photo: EDL

A utility pole blown down by the storm. Photo: EDL

The inclement weather is set to continue until Friday afternoon, according to a notice by the Weather Forecast and Aeronautical Meteorology Division of the Meteorology and Hydrology Department in Vientiane.

All residents are being urged to take proper precautions and reduce speed when driving.

Photos: Mahason, EDL.