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Laos, UNDP tackle removing UXO obstacle to development

Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in cooperation with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is continuing to strengthen national capacities to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 18 - Lives Safe from Unexploded Ordnance (UXO).
Representatives of the government’s concerned authorities and development partners on Tuesday discussed moves towards achieving SDG18, which the government and UNDP have worked together to solve under a programme from 2017 to 2021.

Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, Dr Khampheng Xaysompheng told the meeting that this year, Laos and UNDP worked towards solving UXO problems at various stages, which will improve local communities’ safety from the deadly legacies of war.
However, Dr Khampheng stressed UXO was still a major obstacle to development in Laos, and the two partners will continue discussions to increase cooperation in 2020 aimed to ensure reduced death and injury rates from UXO.
Carrying on UXO clearance will ensure that communities will be able to farm in safe areas, which will play a major role in sustainable development and reducing the country’s poverty.
Acting UNDP Resident Representative, Mr Balasubramanian Murali said this year, many achievements were recorded within the sector, but there were also several challenges such disastrous floods that so badly affected the southern provinces.
A rapid assessment with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare is currently underway to best determine the needs of those affected, including any UXO related issues and to ensure the safety of the population.
UNDP has gone back to providing strategic full-time, capacity support to the UXO sector in the form of a Chief Technical Advisor.
Next year will be a critical turning point within the UXO sector, with many long-term development plans coming to an end and a concerted effort is needed to draft new strategies that are not only innovative but cost and time-efficient, he said.
The 9th National Social Economic Development Plan, which will also be drafted next year, needs to align with SDG18 and the 2030 Agenda closely.
Mr Murali added that under the umbrella of the new five-year sector plan would be the formulation of new long-term sub-sector strategies in addition to the development of a resource mobilisation strategy.

By Ounkham Pimmata
(Latest Update December 19, 2019)

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