Seeking an integrated approach
In 2018, Lao PDR suffered its most costly floods in a decade. Heavy rains from two tropical cyclones were compounded by the collapse of a saddle dam in Attapeu province, which caused flash floods. Overall, more than 600,000 people across the country were affected, and 64 people lost their lives. The destruction of farms and microenterprises, along with the disruption to social services, have affected income sources and increased the debt levels of the 70% of households already in debt. There are concerns over growing health issues; malnutrition and dengue fever, among others, increased in flood-affected areas and are exacerbated by the damages caused to health facilities. Vulnerable communities are particularly affected, especially with the displacement caused by the destruction of almost 1,700 houses.
To identify the priority needs following the floods, the World Bank, with support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), worked closely with the United Nations, the European Union, and civil society organisations to conduct a government-led Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA).
The assessment was completed in less than a month, thanks to close cooperation between partners. The PDNA report estimated total damages of US$371.5 million, equivalent to 2.1% of the country’s projected 2018 GDP, and 10.2% of Lao PDR’s annual budget in 2018. Recovery needs were estimated at US$520 million, with highest impacts identified in the transport, agriculture, and waterways sectors. The PDNA highlighted actions for improving gender equality and child protection in the recovery process.
Since the assessment, the World Bank and the Government of Lao PDR have been working to implement recommendations from the PDNA. The two hardest hit public sectors are transport and waterways, making up 75% of total damages. To provide immediate support for recovery and reconstruction, the World Bank is providing US$54 million through project restructuring and special funding from the International Development Association (IDA) Crisis Response Window for the rehabilitation of roads and embankments. Climate resilient measures are being introduced throughout the reconstruction. For instance, the rehabilitation of roads will include bio-engineering solutions to improve road slope protection. When rehabilitating embankments, flood monitoring and warning mechanisms, along with local contingency plans, will be developed. Recovery efforts also support the government’s long-term development activities, in line with the Five-Year National Socio-Economic Development Plan.