The Government of Japan has provided grant assistance worth US$ 598,330 for Cluster Sub-munitions Machine Clearance Promotion Project in Xieng Khuang Province.
The signing ceremony for the project grant contract was held at the Japanese Embassy in Vientiane on Sep 14 between Mr. Takeshi Hikihara, Ambassador of Japan to the Lao PDR, and Mr. Makoto Saijo, Country Director of the Japan Mine Action Service (JMAS), a Japanese non-profit organisation.
The contract signing was witnessed by Dr. Khampheng Xaysompheng, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Mr. Bountonh Chanthaphone, Governor of Xiengkhouang Province, Mr. Bounpeng Sisawath, Deputy Director General of National Regulatory Authority for the UXO/Mine Action Sector in the Lao PDR (NRA), Mr. Thiphasone Soukhammavong, National Programme Director of Lao National Unexploded Ordnance Programme (UXO Lao) and representatives of line ministries.
The project is in its third year and aims to contribute to securing a safe living environment and promoting rural development of Xieng Khuang Province by accelerating UXO clearance with the Cluster Submunition Clearance Machine (CSCM).
By using the CSCM, bush around the site can be cut and cluster submunitions disposed. This will help reduce operation time and improve safety.
It is the first time in the world that the process of UXO clearance has been fully mechanized. JMAS received material support such as free use of the machine from Komatsu Ltd., the Japanese construction equipment manufacturer.
It is hoped that this project will help UXO Lao accelerate UXO-clearance operations in the Lao PDR in the medium- and long-term perspectives.
JMAS has been actively engaged in UXO clearance activities in the Lao PDR for a long time, namely in Xieng Khuang, Saravan, Attapeu and Champassak Provinces, as well as in Vientiane Capital.
Japan is fully aware of the importance of UXO issues and has placed particular emphasis on UXO-clearance operations by funding them, providing necessary equipment such as detectors and bush cutters, technical assistance, and conducting capacity building activities.
Japan has also been engaged in assistance programme in the field of UXO-related risk education and medical treatment of victims of UXO.
During the Second Indochina War (1964-1975), more than two million tons of explosive ordnance were dropped on the Lao PDR. Today, much of the country is still contaminated with UXO.
Their presence also negatively affects socio-economic development, by preventing safe access to agricultural land and increasing the costs, of all development projects due to the necessity of expensive and time consuming clearance of UXO from the land. For this reason, Lao PDR assigned its own national Sustainable Development Goal, SDG18: Lives Safe from UXO, in 2016.
Source: Lao News Agency