Devastating floods in northern Laos

8 September 2022

Thousands of people in the province of Oudomxay, in the north-west of the country, are experiencing flash floods caused by heavy rains and the effect of tropical storm Ma-on. In response to the floods, Action Education is launching an emergency fund to help provide material and food security for the population.

Among the northern provinces, Oudomxay was the most severely affected by the flash floods that occurred on 26 August 2022, causing flash floods and landslides.

469 families affected by the floods

According to our latest information, basic infrastructure has been affected by the floods, including roads and bridges cut off, houses, schools and health centres flooded, some washed away. Electricity, water and communications have been cut off and food stores washed away. Local authorities are working to evacuate people and provide emergency relief. Boats are sometimes used for evacuations as the floods have cut off many roads.

The latest flood report for the 4 districts of Oudomxay province shows more than 2,300 people affected (representing 469 families), 2 deaths and 3 injuries. Losses are estimated at more than 4 million US dollars. People affected lack clean water, food, basic medicines, shelter and clothing.

What is Action Education's response?

The province of Oudomxay is one of the regions supported by Action Education Laos. It is a very mountainous province with many ethnic minorities. Action Education is developing several projects around entrepreneurship for young women from ethnic minorities, early childhood learning and support for schools (nutrition programmes, installation of drinking water infrastructures, etc.).

The districts of Xay and Laa, where Action Education has projects, have been hit hard. For example, Aunti Khan and her husband live in Lak10 village in Xay district. Their main source of income is growing vegetables, which they supply to villagers and nearby markets. The flood washed away everything in their path (vegetable garden, buildings, equipment and seeds) and they lost everything.

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First, we identify the families most affected by the floods and provide them with basic necessities (drinking water, food aid, basic hygiene kits, etc.). For the distribution, we work in collaboration with the emergency response team set up by the local government.

The effects of climate change

Laos is a country highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The country is experiencing an increasing risk of flash floods in mountainous regions, causing landslides that result in many casualties.

More generally, we see a strong increase in extreme weather events in our 20 countries of operationThe floods are increasingly affecting our projects and the people we work with. Since the beginning of the year, devastating floods have hit Madagascar (January), the state of Assam in India (July), Laos (August) and Cambodia (September).
This is why we makeadaptation to climate change one of the priorities of our action. Since 2020, we have been developing, in the countries in which we operate programmes to prevent the effects of climate change and to adapt to them.

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