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Cash for work project benefiting flood-hit communities

Local communities impacted by flooding are benefiting under a ‘cash for work’ project as part of the collaboration between the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the United Nations Development Programme.
The project began in 2018 to support the most vulnerable families, most of whom are tenant farmers or landless farm labourers, impacted by flooding in Khammuan province’s four districts of Mahaxay, Yommalath, Hinboun, and Nongbok.
The project consists of two main activities: paying cash to local people who work with the project and supporting the elderly in communities impacted by last year’s flash floods. Under the project, members of these communities are repairing damaged irrigation systems as well as access roads and bridges.
Minister of Labour and Social Welfare and Chairman of the National Disaster Prevention and Control Committee, Dr Khampheng Saysompheng, recently visited Khammuan to inspect the progress of the project.
He said 2,784 local people had benefited from the initiative including those in highly prioritised areas.
Following a request from the government to expand emergency response to other districts, the United Nations Country Team has applied and received a grant from the Central Emergency Response Fund to implement the cash for work activities, Dr Khampheng said.
“This support will provide work opportunities for women who are already responsible for half of the agricultural activities in Laos while considering other especially vulnerable social groups and the specific practices of target groups,” he said.
Livelihoods in the targeted areas were already precarious before last year’s floods, with about 30 percent of the province’s population living in poverty. Displaced households no longer had access to land or food sources as they lost all their belongings in the floods. According to the ministry, in 2018 Laos suffered its worst floods in a decade which affected more than 600,000 people in all 17 provinces including Khammuan as well as the capital.
Heavy rain caused by Tropical Storm Son-Tinh and the collapse of a dam at the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydropower plant in Attapeu province led to unprecedented flash flooding in downstream parts of the country.
The floods completely destroyed around 1,700 houses, while severely disrupting education and health services across the country.

By Phetphoxay Sengpaseuth
(Latest Update April 18, 2019)

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