The government of Japan will provide 850 million yen (about US$7.6 million) for Laos in support of activities to help communities around the country that were hit by floods last year.

Heavy rain between July and September, including two tropical storms, resulted in widespread damage around the country.

The signing ceremony for the Exchange of Notes on four grant aid projects took place on Wednesday at UN House in Vientiane.

The Notes were signed and exchanged by the Ambassador of Japan to Laos, Mr Takeshi Hikihara and the representatives of UN agencies, witnessed by line ministries.

Also present were Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and a member of the committee, Mrs Baykham Khattiya, and Deputy Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr Phouthone Muongpak.

The first of the four initiatives is the Project for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the School Education Sector in Flood Affected Areas, signed by the UNICEF Representative to Laos, Mr Octavian Bivol.

This education project by UNICEF will provide support for school registration, continuous school attendance, and effective learning by all pre-primary and primary-aged children in flood-affected districts in Attapeu and Xieng Khuang provinces.

This project will also support capacity building of the education system, both at the national and sub-national levels, to enhance resilience and disaster risk reduction abilities.

A second initiative is the Project for the Improvement of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in Schools and their Surrounding Communities in Flood Affected Areas, which was also signed by FAO Representative Mr Bivol.

The WASH project, run by UNICEF, will provide access to improved facilities, including latrines, urinals, and hand washing facilities, to help schoolchildren practice daily routine hygienic behaviour in schools in selected flood-affected districts in Attapeu and Xieng Khuang provinces.

At the same time this project will enhance the capacity of government line departments at the national, sub-national and local levels to provide and maintain climate resilient WASH services in school hosting communities, and bring it to scale for increased coverage in schools and communities.

The third initiative is the Project for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the Housing Sector in Flood Affected Areas, which was signed by the Regional Advisor of UN-Habitat Lao PDR, Mr Avi Sarkar.

UN-Habitat will work with affected communities, particularly those suffering in the aftermath of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam collapse, to provide critical support and technical expertise to rebuild safer shelters and settlements based on the build-back-better principle.

The rehabilitation of houses will be based on the extent of the damage done, and appropriate technical and material assistance (including shelter kits where required) will be provided.

The fourth initiative, titled Project for the Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of the Agriculture Sector in Flood Affected Areas, was signed by the FAO Representative to the Lao PDR, Mr Nasar Hayat.

This FAO-run project will aid the recovery of agricultural systems and livelihoods in Khammuan and Savannakhet provinces. It will seek to improve food and nutrition security and resilient agricultural livelihoods based on the build-back-better principle and build resilience to disasters in a sustainable way. The most vulnerable and flood-affected households in Savannakhet will be provided with agricultural inputs so they can recover lost agricultural production, assets and livelihoods.

At the same time, innovative approaches to the build-back-better concept will be defined, and provincial implementation plans developed in Khammuan and Savannakhet provinces.

The project will then facilitate these build-back-better approaches and strengthen the disaster risk management capacity of the most vulnerable communities and districts while consolidating the experiences, documenting and sharing of good practices for replication in other districts.

Source: VT

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