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Tue, 03/27/2012 - 05:31
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ECHO, UN-HABITAT join forces for flood recovery in Khammouane

VIENTIANE.03.27.2012 (KPL) - European Commission, Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and UN-HABITAT will work in partnership to restore damaged water, sanitation and shelter facilities and promote hygiene education in Sebangfai district, Khammouance province in response to last year’s flooding from typhoon Nock-Ten. Typhoon Nock-Ten arrived in Laos on 29 July 2011 resulting in continuous heavy rains and subsequent severe flooding, particularly in central Laos. Khammouane was among the worst hit areas, with nearly 190,000 people affected. Several villages, including many in Sebangfai district, were cut off for weeks due to damaged roads, collapsed bridges and continuous rains. The flooding also damaged household latrines and caused widespread contamination of dug wells in the villages. Even months after the floodwaters withdrew, most affected people have not been able to restore their water and sanitation facilities and have subsequently been exposed to an increased health risk. The total project budget exceeds 1.1 billion kip, enabling UN-HABITAT to provide assistance for 41 villages in Sebangfai. The project will not only repair the destroyed water and sanitation facilities and shelter, but will also upgrade and reinforce the facilities to increase local capacity for preparedness and resilience to recurrent flooding. The two representatives from ECHO, Ms Angela Pollitzer and Dr Marie T. Benner, recently traveled to Khammouane to see the flood-affected areas, meet some of the beneficiary communities and discuss the situation with provincial and district authorities. Pollitzer said: “We are pleased to meet some of the people who are receiving humanitarian aid from the European Commission after their villages were devastated by typhoon Nock-Ten. Restoring their water supply, latrines and houses plus providing health information should reduce disease and strengthen the population before the next typhoon arrived.” It is estimated that the project will benefit over 20,000 people affected by last year’s flooding. The intervention aims to be completed by the end of July this year in cooperation with the communities, Public Works and Transport Service, Health Service and other local institutions. UN-HABITAT has on-going development projects in Khammouane, and provided emergency support to the province also after the 2008 floods. ECHO has been funding emergency relief operations in Laos since 1998.