Laos: WFP Rolls Out Rapid Response to Reach Flood Victims as Region Braces for More Storms

Published on 02 October 2009

An archive photo of a WFP beneficiary in Laos.

(Copyright: WFP/Tom Greenwood)

VIENTIANE  – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is rapidly expanding its operations in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to reach flood-affected populations following a typhoon which hit the southern part of the country on Wednesday, destroying crops, depleting vital food stocks and impacting some 250,000 people.

This is the latest natural disaster in South East Asia after weeks of heavy rains and tropical storms continue to plummet several countries in the region, including the Philippines, where an estimated 3 million people have been affected by severe flooding and more than a million have fled their homes.

“We are extremely concerned about people getting back on their feet following such devastating destruction,” said WFP’s Executive Director, Josette Sheeran, speaking from Washington.  “In some places, there is water as far as the eye can see, and people are literally swimming to safety,” said Sheeran, adding that the humanitarian agency is working closely with both the Philippines Government and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to ensure that food and other supplies reach those in need as swiftly as possible.

Rice and canned fish

WFP has scaled up its operations in Laos to provide rations of rice and canned fish to the hardest-hit communities in the provinces of Sekong and Attapeu, where more than 90 percent of land has been flooded and hundreds of houses are submerged under water.

Meanwhile, rains continue to pound the Philippines, and mass evacuations are taking place as the country braces for a powerful typhoon - expected to make landfall on Saturday morning, adding to the devastation caused by last weekend’s tropical storm.  WFP is currently aiming to provide food to 1 million flood-affected people in October as part of WFP’s three-month emergency response.

“The region is overwhelmed with water.  We hope donors step in to assist in these urgent relief efforts so that we can reach those affected as quickly as possible,” added Sheeran.