IOM, Lao PDR and US Work to Improve Disaster Preparedness
Lao PDR - IOM in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, supported by the US government, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare today to officially begin a project to strengthen the capacity of Lao government officials in humanitarian emergencies.
The project will focus on developing a National Disaster Management Training Framework for government officials and will work not only at central level, but will train officials in all provinces in the complete disaster management cycle from prevention to recovery.
With support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the project intends to create an online database that will include all current, previous, and future disaster trainings. This will make training more accessible for government officials in various ministries.
The project also plans to train officials from relevant ministries in a baseline disaster management course in order to ensure comprehensive understanding.
This will be IOM’s first disaster project in Lao PDR as the organization looks to establish a larger role reducing and responding to emergencies. IOM has also recently taken on a stronger role in the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) by co-leading the Shelter Cluster in Lao PDR.
“IOM is aware of the way recurrent hazards like flood and drought impede development in Lao PDR,” stated Project Manager Rebecca Zorn. “Regionally, we recognize that disasters will contribute to greater displacement of vulnerable populations. We think this project will be beneficial to the country because it will continue to support disaster management trainings that have already taken place and increase country knowledge on the issue.”
Besides working in disaster risk management, IOM has been proactive in the areas of safe migration, combatting human trafficking and smuggling, skills development, and migrant health.
Lao PDR is prone to hazards such as floods, landslides, drought, and epidemics. In 2011, Typhoon Haima affected over 429,000 people, caused USD 173.8 million in damages, and severely disrupted livelihoods. The largest problem in Lao PDR, however, is not caused from large scale disasters, but rather localized, recurrent floods and drought. These small-scale emergencies destroy rice paddies and other crops, kill livestock, and cause food insecurity.
Subsistence farmers are ultimately left without a social safety net and lack resilience when their crops are damaged or destroyed, which happens on an annual basis. Because of this, training is needed for communities and government officials not only on preparedness, but also strategies to reduce disaster risk and mitigate impact.