In 2012, HALO began work to clear unexploded ordnance (UXO) in Eastern Savannakhet Province, Laos. This is the most UXO impacted and impoverished region in the country so we combine our survey and clearance work with risk education in villages and schools.
Children account for a significant proportion of accidents because of their natural curiosity and desire to play, so it is particularly important that they understand what to look for. HALO's trained instructors teach the children safe strategies for farming, vegetation cutting or making fires as these are routine activities for rural children in Laos. The instructors also stress the importance of immediately reporting suspicious items.
The photos below, by Tara Rice, tell the story of Lath Village Primary School.
In addition to suffering from extreme poverty, Lath Village, in Laos' Sepon District, is contaminated with UXO, a terrible legacy of the Vietnam War. Known locally as ‘bombies’, hundreds of thousands of cluster munitions remain littered across Laos, in villages like Lath, forcing locals to live in fear of injury and death and denying safe access to land for farming.
Lath village has only a single one-room primary school for its 31 students. The teacher, Mr. Paiwan, struggles with limited resources but does his best to provide a basic education for his students.
To date HALO has provided over 450 risk education sessions reaching over 21,000 villagers in Eastern Savannakhet Province. These sessions help reduce the UXO accident rate in Laos and, when combined with HALO’s survey and clearance operations, are providing a lasting and holistic solution to the problem.