Flash Appeal for Lao People's Democratic Republic 2009

18 November 2009

Typhoon Ketsana crossed into the southern provinces of Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) from Vietnam on 29 September, weakening from a typhoon to a tropical depression as it made landfall, before moving into Cambodia.  The typhoon caused devastation as it passed through the remote southern provinces of Attapeu, Sekong, Saravan, Savannakhet, and Champassack, which include some of the most vulnerable and poorest districts in Lao PDR, with high levels of food insecurity and up to 50% of the children being underweight.  Attapeu Province was the worst hit, bearing the brunt of the storm, with wind speeds of up to 140 kilometres per hour and torrential rains.  According to the Government, a total of 482 villages throughout the five provinces were affected by the subsequent floods and landslides.  An estimated 178,000 people (approximately 27,836 households) were affected, with 9,602 households displaced and 15 storm-related deaths reported.  Due to limited and damaged infrastructure, there was limited access to the majority of the flood-affected population living in mountainous and remote areas, which were completely cut off. 

 Typhoon Ketsana struck during the lean season when household food stocks are at their lowest levels and farmers are preparing for the upcoming harvest, which exacerbated the food insecurity situation.  It destroyed the limited food stocks and damaged crops, significantly reducing the upcoming harvest, in particular in Attapeu and Sekong.  Approximately 28,500 hectares of rice and crop fields were damaged and significant numbers of livestock destroyed.  Reported infrastructure damage included 1,023 houses destroyed and 825 houses damaged.  A total of 32 schools, three hospitals, 14 irrigation systems and many access roads were also damaged.  While an official warning was issued prior to the typhoon’s arrival, in some provinces the message did not reach all people, especially those in remote villages who were thus unable to move their property out of harm’s way. 

Health risks have increased significantly as Typhoon Ketsana damaged water supply systems or contaminated water supplies, and disrupted access to health care services, including reproductive health.  The threat of displaced unexploded ordnance (UXO) exposed by the flood waters further exacerbates the protection concerns of the flood-affected vulnerable population.  Lao PDRis among the most heavily mined nations (per capita) in the world and the provinces that Ketsana struck contain areas with the highest level of UXO-affected districts in the country.  Protection concerns are expected to increase with the convergence of factors such as difficult access, displacement and homelessness, reduced harvests, contaminated water supplies, increased health risks, increased possibility of UXO accidents, and destroyed livelihoods.

Access to enable distribution of relief goods to the flood-affected population was extremely limited due to high waters in the immediate aftermath of the storm, as well as the remote and difficult terrain.  Nevertheless, Government agencies responded swiftly, supported by humanitarian agencies on the ground, launching extensive search and rescue operations and releasing emergency relief stocks.  The Government also disbursed three billion Lak (approximately US$[1]360,030).  However, the extensive damage caused by the floods requires an augmented response under overall Government leadership.  On 9 October 2009, the Government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) requested international emergency assistance to respond to the typhoon’s severe impact, and the resulting needs

Following the Government’s request, teams, including Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) cluster leads and government agencies, conducted initial assessments of the five affected provinces.  Food, drinking water, health, sanitation, shelter and road clearance for access were identified as the top priorities.  This assessment forms the basis for the common humanitarian strategy and projects in this initial Flash Appeal.  A second, more detailed, joint needs assessment is underway and results are expected to be released in late October.  To support the Government’s relief actions, the international humanitarian community is seeking$10,153,872 to address the immediate needs of approximately 178,000 people affected by Typhoon Ketsana over the next six months.  This appeal was developed in partnership with the Government of Lao PDR through the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) and provides the framework for a common inter-agency understanding of needs and priorities, based on the best information currently available.  In recognition of the gaps in this shared understanding, due in part to the inaccessibility of some of the worst-affected areas, this Flash Appeal will be revised once results from detailed assessments are released.

[1]All dollar signs in this document denote United States dollars.  Funding for this appeal should be reported to the Financial Tracking Service (FTS, fts@reliefweb.int), which will display its requirements and funding on the CAP 2009 page.

Document History

18 November 2009

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