What are the needs?
Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic) ranks among the poorest nations in south-east Asia. Poverty reduction therefore remains the main challenge, particularly in rural and inaccessible mountainous areas where ethnic minorities are concentrated.
Large parts of Laos are prone to floods and droughts, and the country's vulnerability to such disasters has increased over the last few years, as a result of illegal logging and deforestation, among other reasons. Most recently in mid-2016, days of heavy downpours caused floods in many parts of the country, affecting more than 20 000 people. Numerous homes and swathes of agricultural lands were also damaged.
Storms, floods and landslides often leave the population in need of food assistance, temporary shelter, clean water and sanitation, primary health care and basic household items and livelihood support. Outbreaks of tropical diseases such as dengue and malaria put an additional strain on local health services, and preventive action is required at community level.
How are we helping?
Since 1998, the European Commission has provided some €17 million in response to disasters and epidemics in the country, including life-saving assistance to combat malaria and dengue outbreaks in the central and southern parts of the country. In response to the 2016 floods, funding was released to support the delivery of emergency food and non-food relief items to the most affected families.
Furthermore, the Commission has also been supporting disaster risk reduction projects to help communities better prepare for natural disasters and contribute to building their resilience with €6 million since 1998. Most recently, around €800 000 was allocated to Laos under the Disaster Preparedness Programme for Southeast Asia for the period 2016-2017.
At the end of 2013, the Commission channelled €166 000 through the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies following the devastating effects of cyclone Wutip, which brought heavy rainfall to the southern provinces of Champasak, Salavan, Xekong and Attapeu. The funds were used to provide basic food and non-food items to 10 000 beneficiaries (2 000 families).