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The Lao PDR is prone to a number of natural hazards like flooding, landslides and earthquakes that leave significant social and economic impact in their wake. In particular, regularly occurring storms and flooding result in annual devastation across the country. In recent years, the monsoon season has precipitated especially severe floods and tropical storms, resulting in greater loss of life and greater economic losses than any other calamity. In addition to these natural disasters, the Lao PDR is prone to disease outbreaks and epidemics, and continues to suffer from the deadly legacy of massive amounts of unexploded ordnance from the Second Indochina War. All of these dangers strain the country’s already limited humanitarian relief mechanisms.

In order to enhance preparedness and reduce the impact of future natural disasters, the United Nations Resident Coordinator’s Office and the National Disaster Management Office led the development of the Inter Agency Contingency Plan. The plan is a joint effort by the Lao Government, the UN, development partners and INGOs, who operate as the Inter Agency Standing Committee on Emergency Response. It is designed to ensure an effective, timely and coordinated response to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on Lao communities.

 

The role of the UN during a national emergency

The Inter Agency Contingency Plan outlines the coordination strategy for an emergency response. In support of the overarching leadership of the Government during a disaster, the Resident Coordinator manages the implementation of the international humanitarian response, coordinating information flow among the various Inter Agency Standing Committee members. The Resident Coordinator’s Office also disseminates situation reports and communicates important current disaster information via a dedicated website. During a major emergency, we will be posting important updates and information here: Current Disaster Information.

At a technical level, the humanitarian response is coordinated by ten “clusters”, which create partnerships between international humanitarian actors, national and local authorities, and civil society. Each cluster supports Government function in the same area, and is led by a UN agency, occasionally in conjunction with an NGO. These clusters plays a key role in the reduction of disaster impact and community recovery. 

The ten clusters are:

  • Health Cluster

    Cluster lead: WHO
    The goal of the health cluster is to ensure effective, efficient and timely response to a public health emergency.

  • WASH Cluster

    Cluster lead: UNICEF
    The WASH cluster provides emergency response for issues involving water, sanitation and hygiene.

  • Nutrition Cluster

    Cluster lead: UNICEF
    The aim of the nutrition cluster is to reduce mortality and to prevent deterioration of nutritional status among the most vulnerable population groups, such as children under five years of age and pregnant and lactating mothers.

  • Education Cluster

    Cluster lead: UNICEF and Save the Children
    The education cluster ensures greater predictability and more effective inter-agency responses in education, in the main areas of standards and policy-setting, building response capacity and operational support.

  • Shelter Cluster

    Cluster lead: UN-HABITAT and IFRC
    In a disaster-affected population, the shelter cluster works to increase access to shelter, settlement and essential household items (EHI).

  • Protection Cluster

    Cluster lead: UNICEF and Save the Children
    The goal of the protection cluster is to ensure that the most vulnerable families and children affected by the disaster are protected from violence, abuse, exploitation (and extended trauma) and the risks of UXO in line with international human rights legislation, global standards and norms of humanitarian action.

  • Early Recovery Cluster

    Cluster lead: UNDP
    The early recovery cluster supports coordinated assessment of needs, and responds to ensure effective and rapid long-term recovery.

  • Food Security Cluster

    Cluster lead: WFP and FAO
    The food security cluster supports the Government of Lao PDR to meet the food security needs of affected populations.

  • Logistics Cluster

    Cluster lead: WFP
    The logistics cluster establishes and maintains the humanitarian response mechanism in order to ensure efficient and effective response to humanitarian emergencies across the country.

  • ICT Cluster

    Cluster lead: WFP
    Similarly to the logistics cluster, the ICT cluster establishes and maintains the information, communication and technology apparatuses that will ensure appropriate humanitarian response around the country.

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