Dam collapse and flash flooding - Laos

In July 2018, the Xepeien-Xenamnoy Hydropower dam in Laos’ Attepeu province collapsed, resulting in flash flooding across 55,000 hectares of land, directly impacting eight villages. The flash floods were then exacerbated by heavy rainfall and tropical storms. The death toll reached 40 and more than 13,000 people were affected with 6,000 people displaced.

Above: A Lao family receives emergency supplies at an evacuation centre. Photo credit: Save the Children.

Above: A Lao family receives emergency supplies at an evacuation centre. Photo credit: Save the Children.

The affected villages in Attepau province were Ban Mai, Ban HinLath, Ban ThaSengchan, Bhan Thahintai, Ban Sanong, Ban Thae, Ban Phonsa-ath and Ban Nongkhae. Roads and bridges were damaged and some affected areas could only be reached by helicopter. Food and clean water were scarce in the aftermath and temporary camps quickly became crowded. The risk of disease outbreak was high. A total of 13 schools were affected with one school completely destroyed.  

The AHP was activated to coordinate a component of Australia’s humanitarian response to the flash floods. AHP NGO partners CARE, Plan International and Save the Children came together to deliver a coordinated disaster response. CARE leads the collaborative response.

The AHP response

Led, by CARE, the AHP NGO partners are supporting early recovery in the affected areas, focusing on the immediate needs of 3,877 displaced people, currently located in eight evacuation centres, to access nutritious food, education and appropriate protection services.

Above: Child-friendly spaces are set up in evacuation camps to help children with their recovery, and improve their learning skills through fun activities and games. Photo credit: Plan International.

Above: Child-friendly spaces are set up in evacuation camps to help children with their recovery, and improve their learning skills through fun activities and games. Photo credit: Plan International.

 Partners are operating out of CARE’s field office in Sekong province, from which most evacuation centres can be accessed via passable roads within 2-3 hours. They are working closely with Laos counterparts, including provincial and district Labour and Social Welfare offices, provincial and district Education and Sports departments, provincial and district Health Offices, Lao Federation of Trade Unions and the Lao Women’s Union.

 Materials and planning support have been provided to support early recovery activities, including in the areas of nutrition, food security and livelihoods. AHP NGOs are working with education partners and schools to minimise disruption to children’s education.

 Protection and psychosocial support have been provided for women and children and AHP partners are working to ensure the needs of women, children and people with disabilities are considered in agency and response coordination efforts.

Laos, 2018Clare Price