The Government of Japan and UNICEF Strengthen Disaster Resilience and Preparedness of Flood-Affected Areas in Attapeu Province

13 November 2020
Children in school
UNICEF Laos/2020/SSanoubane

Vientiane, 12 November 2020 – The Ambassador of Japan to the Lao PDR, H.E. Mr. Keizo Takewaka, and UNICEF Representative, Dr. Pia Rebello Britto, have conducted a joint-visit to Sanamxay district, Attapeu province, to observe UNICEF-supported interventions to promote the sustainable recovery of flood-affected areas and to strengthen community-based disaster resilience and preparedness.

As part of this visit, the Japanese Ambassador co-chaired a handover ceremony of education, water, sanitation and hygiene related supplies consisting of school furniture, individual learning kits, handwashing stations, drinking water filters, and gender segregated toilets to the Tha Ouan primary school in Sanamxay district alongside UNICEF Representative and the Vice Governor of Attapeu, H.E. Mrs. Minaphone Xayxomphou.

Severe floods in Attapeu in 2018 caused significant damage to the province’s education sector. The majority of schools in affected areas reported loss of textbooks, school furniture, learning materials and stationaries, affecting almost 4,500 students. Furthermore, water and sanitation services throughout the province were also disrupted, with most of the community water supplies and facilities becoming submerged and contaminated with flood water.

To address the post-disaster needs and strengthen the disaster preparedness of affected communities, The Government of Japan  has provided a grant of USD $4.4 million to UNICEF to implement two projects (USD $2.2 million for each project) from 2019 to 2023, focusing on tackling the floods’ impact on education and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in three districts: Sanamxay (Attapeu), Khoune and Nonghed (Xiengkhouang).

“The interventions funded by Japan and implemented by UNICEF play an important role in the sustainable recovery of the education sector and in restoring equitable access to improved water and sanitation services for flood-affected communities,” said H.E. Mr. Takewaka, the Ambassador of Japan to the Lao PDR. “As Lao PDR has a large portion of young population, we have a heavy responsibility to support schools and education,” he further added.

“Extended financial support from Japan, coupled with UNICEF’s in-country implementation capacity, will make a large-scale positive impact on the lives of every child in Lao PDR and support them in overcoming the challenges imposed by the floods,” stated Dr, Pia Rebello Britto, UNICEF Representative.

The supplies handed over to Tha Ouan primary school are part of the larger interventions in education targeting 295 pre-primary and primary schools for the three districts (26 pre-primary and 47 primary schools in Sanamxay). Approximately 18,800 pre-primary and primary-aged children per year in Attapeu and Xiengkhouang, including most vulnerable children, are expected to benefit from these interventions in education.

Alongside the provision of education materials to affected schools, the interventions in the education sector also include support for the development of a national education sector emergency contingency plan and trainings for enhanced teaching-learning practices and disaster risk reduction (DRR) for both teachers and education officials as well that will benefit the whole education sector, ensuring education officials know what to do when emergencies hit.

Additionally, UNICEF has also supported the Tha Ouan primary school with a community water supply through water tanks, boreholes and water meters, along with hand washing stations, accessible and gender-segregated school toilets and filtered drinking water supply for classrooms as part of the package of WASH interventions. An estimated 7,500 children, including girls of 40 primary schools and 20,000 people (including 5,000 females) from 40 rural communities in Attapeu and Xiengkhouang are expected to benefit from improved sources of water, safe sanitation and proper hygiene related behaviors.

These interventions are currently being implemented in synergy with other essential UNICEF-supported sectoral assistance, including health and nutrition and child protection, which will help maximize the effectiveness of the overall interventions.

About the Government of Japan

This year marks the 65th anniversary of Japan-Laos diplomatic relations and the 5th anniversary of the bilateral strategic partnership. Japan, as a strategic partner of the Lao PDR continues supporting the efforts of the Government of Lao PDR for sustainable socio-economic development.

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