Government reviews disaster risks in agriculture
Laos suffers from natural hazards such as floods and drought that cause great damage to agriculture and the livelihoods of rural people, with the Mekong sub-region currently in the grip of a severe drought.
Climate change is also increasing the frequency and severity of these disasters. Up to 250,000 people are affected each year by agricultural disasters of various types, losing a significant part of their production and causing local food shortages.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) is leading a high level review of the sector plan to reduce the risks from natural disasters, and has brought the concerned agencies together to update its approach in line with regional and international agreements.
The plan of action for agriculture aims to raise awareness, strengthen sectoral capacities and ensure an active approach to reducing risks to the 70 percent of the population of Laos that work in agriculture.
As a first step in the process, the MAF organised a consultation on ‘Revisiting the Plan of Action for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Agriculture' yesterday in Vientiane, with the support of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), which was attended by over 35 participants from various agencies.
Deputy Director General of Planning and Cooperation Department under the MAF, Mr Savanh Hanephom chaired the meeting.
In his opening remarks, Mr Savanh summarised the government's efforts to reduce disaster risk in agriculture and allied sectors and the lessons learned.
The FAO's Chief Technical Adviser on disaster risks, Dr Satendra Singh, explained the importance of local government assistance to support action by local people to reduce their losses from disasters.
Representatives from eight MAF departments discussed the priority areas for disaster risk reduction in their areas, which will be incorporated into the revised plan of action.
Changes were also agreed that will bring the plan in line with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction developed at an international conference in Japan in 2015. Provincial agencies will also be consulted during the preparation.
The FAO Representative to Laos, Stephen Rudgard congratulated the government for its active approach, commenting that “The FAO has been supporting the government for over two years in reducing the risks to the agriculture sector from disasters and climate change, and two major projects will be launched in 2016 to continue that support.”
The process of updating the plan of action will be completed by June 2016, incorporating the advice from all agencies.
By Times Reporters
(Latest Update March 30, 2016)