FEATURE: Flood-hit regions need nation’s assistance now

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - Even as flood levels continue to drop, thousands of people in the south of Laos are hungry and in need of help from the government, organisations and public.

They don’t have enough food, drinking water, kitchen equipment, bedding, and other essentials.

Tropical depression Podul passed over the country at the end of August and beginning of September bringing heavy rain and some 377,703 people in 175,422 families of 1,466 villages in 43 districts have been affected by flooding in Khammuan, Savannakhet, Attapeu, Saravan, Champassak, and Xekong provinces.

The floods killed 14 people with three deaths in Savannakhet province, two in Saravan, five in Champassak, and four in Attapeu. One person in Champassak province is still missing.

These floods have damaged countless households sweeping away the cherished possessions of many. Residents had to move out with nothing so victims are in immediate need of essential supplies, but still, there isn’t enough despite the exceptional efforts of many organisations.

According to a meeting of the National Disaster Prevention and Control Committee on Monday, the government has provided initial emergency assistance of 1,650 million kip to the six provinces with 500 million kip allocated to Champassak, 100 million kip to Xekong, 100 million kip to Attapeu, 600 million kip to Saravan, 50 million kip to Khammuan, and 300 million kip to Savannakhet.

Laos is poor compared to other countries, so such a massive disaster such as this has an overwhelming impact which the government alone cannot handle because the needs of villagers are so urgent. However, thankfully, the generosity of spirit of the kind people of Laos has come to the fore with many bending over backwards to help their fellow countrymen and women in this time of need.

Many organisations and government departments have opened donation centres to make it easy for the public to contribute money, food, drinking water and anything in need by flood victims.

These public donation centres are a great way to receive society’s generosity as people rich or poor can give when and whatever they want.

People from all walks of life have recently stepped forward to front fundraising efforts in the wake of the widespread flooding.

One such person is Lao singer Ms Phetdavone Khammanivong, who has also opened a bank account Phetdavone KMNV number 010120001470166001, and called on members of the public to transfer or deposit money to it directly.

Contribution pages have also been set up on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok with numerous physical centres established to receive the public’s donations.

Nevertheless, any individual or organisation collecting money, whether well-known or not, should at all times be accountable to show where contributions are being directed to assist the flood victims best.

Acting transparently will ensure that trust is built among the public and that donations will keep flowing to help those in need.

The National Disaster Prevention and Control Committee meeting on Monday also reported the Ministry of Health had assigned medical personnel along with essential medicines to assist people in the flooded provinces, especially Champassak and Saravan.

Authorities have set up drinking water production equipment at the border of Thataeng district, Xekong province and Lao-ngam district, and Khongxedon district, Saravan to deliver clean water to the flooded areas.

Authorities are using aircraft, helicopters and trucks from the Ministry of National Defence to deliver emergency supplies including drinking water, food, boats, tents and household necessities to the six provinces devastated by floods.

Helicopters are proving essential to deliver supplies where trucks cannot gain access because of flooded roads.

With the ongoing generosity of the nation and its people, let’s hope that victims promptly receive the assistance they need.