Laos: Emergency Assistance for Flood Victims, Inflicted by Typhoon ‘’Haima’’

Floods triggered by typhoon ‘’Haima’’ caused tremendous damages to Xieng Khouang province in the northern part of Laos where AAR JAPAN has been engaged in unexploded ordnance (UXO) action. More than 500 houses were inundated or destroyed. Rice paddies, field, schools, bridges, and roads were also damaged. In Xieng Khouang province, the total number of flood victims counted up to 60,000 with 7 dead. In the affected areas, large stocks of rice were soaked in the floods prompting the Lao government to start distributing food.

Flood-damaged fields raise serious concerns about the upcoming harvest.
In response to this situation which struck Laos, one of the poorest countries in Asia, AAR JAPAN set out to identify the needs of those whose livelihoods had been seriously affected.

Floods Cut Off Villagers from Clean Water Supplies

Yoko HAYASHI, AAR JAPAN staff at Xieng Khouang office, and local government staff visited villages in the affected areas to assess what was most needed. As a result, AAR JAPAN decided to help rebuild dams, water storage tanks and water pipelines to restore the functions of the water supply system in Ban Nador, Ban NaOung, Ban Hainieng, and Ban Kornyui where the damage was especially severe.

Yoko HAYASHI, AAR JAPAN staff, interviews local people to determine their assistance needs.

A local staff shows a disconnected water pipe: villages were deprived of clean water from the water tank. (Ban Hainieng)

Where a water tank once stood. Now washed away without a trace. (Ban Kornyui)

“Things have been difficult after the water supply facilities were destroyed,” a woman living in Ban Kornyui said, “Women and children were affected the most because we use a lot of water for preparing food and washing clothes every day. We have been using well water lately, but it’s not very clean. So we were very happy to hear that AAR JAPAN is going to rebuild the water supply system. I can’t wait till it’s finished.”

Mr. Fue, local staff of AAR JAPAN Xieng Khouang Office, interviews a woman from the village.

Villagers’ Cooperation Essential in Rebuilding Water Supply System

In Ban Nador and Ban NaOung where water tanks had been swept away by the landslides caused by the typhoon, AAR JAPAN engaged in the reconstruction of the water tanks and dam. The dam had to be built a few meters upstream from the initially planned location, because of the large volume of the river. This resulted in a shortage of pipes. Despite this setback, the completion of the reconstruction project was made possible by the goodwill of the villagers of Ban Hainieng who gave some of their water pipes for the reconstruction work of their neighboring village.

Ban Hainieng had not been spared the damage of the floods either. The water pipes between the water tanks and the village were damaged. This meant the villagers had to buy expensive bottled water to sustain their lives. AAR JAPAN helped restore a clean water supply to the village by overhauling the water pipeline and repairing the dam for supplying water to the storage tanks.

“Clean water will be supplied to our village!” Water pipes are about to be connected.

In Ban Kornyui, the only water tank had been washed away by the typhoon. As an emergency measure, the villagers installed a pipeline from the closest river. This river was smaller in capacity and was contaminated by sewage from other villages located upstream, but the villagers of Ban Kornyui had no choice but to use the polluted water. In response, AAR JAPAN set up a new water tank and installed water pipes which now supply safe and clean water to Ban Kornyui.

A newly installed water tank supplies clean water to the village.

Mr.Bounsom of Ban Kornyui bathes in clean water.

‘’We are so delighted to have clean water now!’’ From left, Mr.THAI, local staff of AAR JAPAN Xieng Khouang office, Mr.NOYMANY and Mrs.SIDA of Ban Kornyui, and Yoko HAYASHI of AAR JAPAN.

“We had no clean water for four months after the June typhoon,” explained Mr NOYMANY, a 47-year-old living in Ban Hainieng. “We were using well water and river water, but it was so dirty. We couldn’t even wash ourselves after coming back from the field, but not having water to drink was the biggest problem. We are all very delighted to have access to clean water now. Using clean water prevents the spread of diseases, and we are very grateful to AAR JAPAN.” Throughout the project, villagers from all four villages actively participated by helping with the construction work and the transportation of materials. At the completion ceremony, the village mayors said, “We will take on the task of protecting these newly constructed water tanks and pipes from here on.”

People of Xieng Khouang Give Appreciation Even to the Heavy Rainy Season

The rainy season in Laos lasts six months from April through October. During this wet season, it rains at least once a day, and it sometimes comes down in buckets for days on end. The poorly-paved roads of the mountainous province of Xieng Khouang are prone to flood disasters.

To get to the villages, we had to cross fast flowing rivers getting completely drenched and struggle through the swamp-like fields. This made me re-realize the difficulty the villagers are faced with because of the heavy rain. With beautiful smiles on their faces, the Lao people in Xieng Khouang said, ‘’once the rainy season passes and the dry season comes, we have to go fetch water from the river far from the village. With a lot of rain, crops grow well and we can eat a lot of fish and frogs from the river which makes us happy.” The frog dishes that the Lao people love so much and offer me every time I visit these villages are perhaps blessings from the rain as well.

Despite the harsh climate, the people in Xieng Khouang follow an easygoing lifestyle and remain thankful to nature. I hope to be able to continue AAR JAPAN’s activities to help these wonderful people live in a secure environment.

Yoko Hayashi, AAR Xieng Khouang office
Has been working in the Xieng Khouang office in Laos since December, 2010. Studied French and French colonial geopolitical history at university. After working for an airline company and a Japanese diplomatic office overseas, joined AAR JAPAN. (Born in Aichi Prefecture)