UN World Food Programme

Laos: Food Aid Rushed To Families Hit By Typhoon

Floods in the Saravane provincial centre

Copyright: WFP/Photolibrary

WFP is providing emergency food assistance to families in southern Laos where Typhoon Ketsana – the same one that hit the Philippines on September 26 - has caused more severe floods, this time affecting some 250,000 people.

VIENTIANE – WFP has delivered rice and fish rations to more than 40,000 people affected by flooding in the Laos provinces of Attapeu, Sekong and Saravane.

Working closely with the government and local authorities, more than 100 metric tons of rice and over 22,000 cans of fish have been distributed to the eight worst-affected districts within the provinces. Food distributions will be expanded to Savannakhet Province in the coming days.

WFP started its emergency assistance operation on Friday October 2, just one day after typhoon Ketsana caused devastating floods in the region. Sekong and Attapeu areas were hit hardest by the Ketsana, which arrived in Laos on Wednesday, destroying crops, depleting vital food stocks and impacting some 250,000 people.

"Lost everything"

“People have lost everything: shoes, clothes, food, household items,” said Hyunjung Kim, WFP Head of Sub-office in Saravane, after joining a government helicopter flight over Kaleum and Lamarm districts on Friday.

In Attapeu, more than 90 percent of land was flooded. Out of a total population of 117,000 people, 110,000 are affected and hundreds of homes are submerged.

“There is water as far as the eye can see. Rivers are converging across roads now,” Caitlin Makin, Head of WFP sub-office in the provincial capital, said three days after the typhoon.

Latest disaster for region

WFP is working in close cooperation with the Lao government to assess the emergency needs and provide food assistance quickly. The agency is also soliciting funding from donors to assist in this urgent relief effort.

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 .