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Locals more aware of natural disasters through CBDRR project

Many years ago grandfather Khamphai considered floods as a natural and inevitable par t of life next to the river so he accepted them, but now he is more aware of the potential loss from flooding.

Mr Khamphai Liemdala, 74, lives in Kengpae village in Xebangfai district, Khammuan province which lies near the Xebangfai River.

The upgraded bore well in Kengpae village.

Every year Kengpae is one of the villages at risk from the effect of the river's flooding, but villagers were previously oblivious to the threat of natural hazards.

Since 2011, tropical storms Haima and Nokten hit the province with devastating effects changing the villagers' traditional thoughts and attitudes to natural hazards.

They now give more importance and are aware of unpredictable natural hazards after the severe floods destroyed their properties and lives.

Grandfather Khamphai is one of the locals badly affected by flooding so he is more aware of the potential losses from natural disasters.

This spurred him on to join many activities and projects to help raise awareness about risks and how people can act to reduce their exposure to hazards in his community.

Recently, Khamphai has become a member of the Village Disaster Prevention and Control Committee (VDPCC) under the Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) project.

The project also established a District Disaster Prevention and Control Committee (DDPCC).

The CBDRR project began in August 2014 in Xebangfai and Mahaxay districts, Khammuan province and will end shortly, with the aim to strengthen community based disaster risk reduction by providing a platform for multi participation and related activities in the province.

The project aims to increase coordinating mechanisms and capacity of disaster risk reduction at central and local levels in order to increase vulnerable communities' resilience.

The project has been supported by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection programme and is being conducted by Department of Disaster Management and Climate Change under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, alongside Lao and French Red Cross societies.

Khammuan has been selected for the project because it was one of 12 provinces badly affected by topical storms Haima and Nokten.

The severe flooding killed 42 people a nd destroyed houses, crops, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, electricity polls, extension lines, communication systems, and caused widespread damage to irrigation schemes, aquaculture infrastructure and riverbanks.

The total damage bill amounted to US$200 million as estimated by the National Disaster Management Office.

Since the project started, grandfather Khamphai and his team regularly inform villagers and schoolchildren about natural hazards and how to react when there is flood.

“The team was trained on disaster risk reduction and management by DDPCC and then we pass the lessons on to our village. In addition, we lead villagers in practice on how to excavate when there is a flood,” he said.

Khamphai explained that villagers now had more understanding and responded more quickly to natural disasters compared to the past.

In the past, villagers encountered difficulties dealing with flooding due to a lack of basic knowledge and understanding about disasters, but now they understand the situation with enhanced capacity to respond to natural disasters, he added.

“Through this project, our village has an early warning system, boat and electricity generator to use when there is a flood.”

More importantly, the project helped to build a temporary shelter for evacuated people and upgraded a bore well and the school's infrastructure, he added.

Now villagers know how to respond to disasters through this project.

For example, VDPCC members will follow up news from DDPCC and television or radio and then issue warnings via loudspeakers for villagers.

“After receiving warnings, villagers will immediately prepare their food, animals and boat for excavation,” grandfather Khamphai said.

“Although villagers received warnings in the past, they still ignored them so when there was flash flood there was loss of properties and lives,” he commented.

After a disaster VDPCC members will immediately go to inspect and collect damage data and submit it to district authorities for seeking ways to restore damage.

Grandfather Khamphai said this project had contributed and provided valuable lessons on disaster management for the village so they can pass these lessons on to other villages near rivers.

 

By Phetsamone Chandala
(Latest Update
November 30, 2015)


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