Laos attempts to rebuild flood victims’ lives amid budget constraints

VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/ANN) - The government estimates that about 3 trillion kip is needed to repair the damage caused by recent flooding and to restore flood-hit communities to normal.

The impacts of disasters are a major challenge for Laos in working towards poverty eradication, with many families now lacking housing as a result of floods.

Speaking at the Round Table Pre-Consultation meeting on post-disaster recovery and disaster risk reduction indicative support, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and Chairman of the National Disaster Prevention and Control Committee, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, said the government is attempting to rebuild the lives of flood-affected villagers in the south and central provinces.

The main goal is to rehouse families whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

He admitted there was concern about the financing of repairs to damaged property and provision of services for the flood victims because of budget constraints.

The government has provided limited financial support to affected families but this is insufficient for all contingencies.

The efforts of ministries, local authorities, development partners and emergency responders have all been affected by the floods, such as the delivery and provision of aid items including rescue boats, Dr Khampheng said.

The floods destroyed fishponds and damaged irrigation systems, as well as farmland, schools, power lines, healthcare facilities, and other infrastructure.

The government is continuing to ask organisations, businesses and individuals to contribute what they can in the way of monetary donations to help the flood victims. Provincial authorities are working to repair bridges and roads and facilitate the work of volunteers in distributing money, food, and clothing.

Although flood-hit communities have received some assistance from the government, donors, and NGOs, many families still need help with health services, hygiene and sanitation, and the provision of general consumer items.

Meeting participants shared lessons learned from other natural disasters for the successful implementation of relief and rehabilitation measures. According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, about 765,000 people in 44 districts across the six southern provinces were affected by the floods in early September, and almost 195,000 people displaced.