Monday, September 30, 2013

Coping with volatile weather in Laos

IRIN: The frequent but low-impact disasters in Laos, home to just 6.1 million inhabitants, are seldom in the limelight compared with neighbouring flood-prone Thailand to the west, cyclone-hit Myanmar in the northwest, and earthquake-susceptible China to the north.

In the past five years, floods swept through 65 of Thailand’s provinces in 2011, affecting 14 million people; Cyclone Nargis left 138,300 either dead or missing in Myanmar in 2008; and China’s 2008 Sichuan earthquake killed 34,000. 

The disasters in Laos appear puny in comparison, but increasingly volatile weather conditions are taking a toll on the 80 percent of the population who do not live in the capital, Vientiane, and depend on natural resources for survival. They are dispersed across three widely diverse geographical environments in the North, Central, and Southern regions, which range from forested mountains to low-lying alluvial plains.

“The climate diversity between the north, central and southern regions of Laos means that communities in each area face different risks associated with climate instability, with a uniform consequence on food production,” Edward Allen, a technical adviser and climatological dynamics expert for Southeast Asia at the Laos Institute for Renewable Energy (LIRE), a Vientiane-based non-profit research organization, told IRIN.... 

A child and ox plowing in Laos, shot by Paulrudd, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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