- General

WFP, USAID Join Hands For Disaster Risk Reduction

The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United States Agency for International

Development (USAID) launched on Friday a project on strengthening national and local capacities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare around emergency preparedness and response, with one project activity delivered at community level, targeting over 5,500 villagers.

Through climate change, the Lao PDR is exposed to periodic storms, floods and droughts. The impacts of COVID-19 put further pressure on people’s lives, especially in the poorest and most vulnerable communities of the country. Disaster risk reduction is a necessary element to ensure food and nutrition security, because it is about protecting people’s livelihoods from shocks, and strengthening their capacity to absorb shocks and recover from them.

Mr. Michael Ronning, USAID Country Representative to Laos, noted in his remarks, “this new programme is one part of the United States’ efforts in the Lao PDR to safeguard human lives, property and livelihoods in the face of future disasters. Many of these disasters result from the increasingly unpredictable impact of climate change.

Addressing the climate crisis is about more than the environment. Enhanced community resilience to and awareness of the climate crisis saves lives and contributes to sustainable global development. “The USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance is enlisting the long-standing cooperation between the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and WFP in the area of disaster preparedness and response. The support goes to the Ministry’s Department of Social Welfare in capacity strengthening around vulnerability assessment and risk mapping, supply chain logistics for disaster preparedness and response, as well as improving the operational effectiveness of the Ministry’s Emergency Operations Centre in Vientiane.

The project also plans to provide technical assistance to the Department of Meteorology and Hydrology on enhancing the accuracy and communication of forecasts, as well as to conduct simulation exercises.

Another key component of the project will see 13 target villages – selected based mainly on their vulnerability to disasters and food insecurity – engage in the construction or rehabilitation of community structures, identified in gender-sensitive consultations.

These structures are set to control erosion and manage water resources, making the communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, while also developing their disaster risk reduction capacities. Villagers will receive cash in exchange for their labour, which will help them buy food in the short term. The community structures will support them in become more food secure in the long term.

“I am very happy to see this first cooperation with the USAID Bureau of Humanitarian Assistance materialize. Supporting the government and communities in resilience and disaster risk reduction is more important than ever today. WFP’s global and local experience will ensure that vulnerable communities gradually shift towards self-reliance and resilience,” said WFP Country Director and Representative Jan Delbaere.

Source: Lao News Agency