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Communities in Laos take charge to adapt to climate change

Published: 25th February 2014 14:08Last Updated: 20th March 2014 16:36


© Plan International. Communities in Laos take charge to adapt to climate change.

In the last decade in Pha Oudom, 700 houses have been lost to flooding, affecting more than 8,500 people in these isolated and marginalised communities. It is one of the poorest regions in Laos and is frequently affected by storms, flash flooding and wildfires.

Disaster Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation

Six villages in Pha Oudom are working closely with Plan Laos and are being provided construction materials for drainage canals and fishponds, barbed wire fences for cattle grazing zones, and solar lanterns to reduce the risk of fire from gasoline lanterns and to provide a clean source of electricity to the remote villages.

“Plan Laos is quite new to disaster response,” says Saphet Sivilay, disaster risk management coordinator for Plan Laos. “Therefore, we have been working in partnership with government and communities on climate change adaptation to ensure communities are prepared for emergency situations and to help reduce the risk of loss.”

This is part of Plan’s Child-Centred Climate Change Adaptation (4CA), a 3-year project supported by AusAID taking place in 10 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. It aims to build the awareness of children and young people about climate change and empower them to be agents of change in their communities.

Vulnerability

In the last decade in Pha Oudom, 700 houses have been lost to flooding, affecting more than 8,500 people in these isolated and marginalised communities. It is one of the poorest regions in Laos and is frequently affected by storms, flash flooding and wildfires.

Children are often more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, but they are also more than passive victims. As powerful and young members of any community, it is essential that children actively participate and contribute to decisions and planning around climate change.

After holding a rapid appraisal with the women, men and children of the communities to identify potential disaster risks, possible solutions have been identified that can be implemented by the community themselves.

Activities are also being extended and expanded into schools. A disaster risk reduction curriculum is being piloted in 30 primary schools with school teachers and district education officers receiving training.

“My school was torn into pieces. Luckily no one got hurt,” says Nom, a 13 year-old schoolgirl in Hadom Village. The simple primary school building, built from bamboo and soft wood, was destroyed in less than an hour by strong winds in 2008.

Plan Laos is now working with School Clubs to design and implement learning activities to prepare for emergency situations at school. School Club members will be trained and lead club activities for training their classmates in late-2013.

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