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UN-SPIDER Mission in Lao PDR Supports Space-based Information for Disaster Management


July 23, 2015


Participants of the workshop on “Improving Disaster Management and Emergency Response Using Space-based Information.”

The Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) invited the United Nations platform for Space-based Information for Disaster Management and Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) to conduct an in-country Technical Advisory Mission (TAM). The mission was carried out July 6 through 10. Lao PDR requested the TAM to assist with building capacity for utilizing space-based information and services that are relevant to disaster managers, and to improve access to that information.

Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) joined the nine-person mission team which also included experts from UN-SPIDER, UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC), National Disaster Reduction Centre of China (NDRCC), International Water Management Institute (IWMI), University of Georgia (UGA), and Delta State University (DSU). The team conducted discussions with eight Lao Government Ministries, key disaster management stakeholders, and the interim UN Resident Coordinator for the country, as well as senior staff from various UN agencies.

In order to prepare meaningful recommendations at the conclusion of the TAM, a one-day workshop on “Improving Disaster Management and Emergency Response Using Space-based Information” was organized for senior policy makers, data providers, disaster management agencies, and end users. The event included a technical session to help participants share their experiences and to encourage discussion. This session covered communication with stakeholders and action plans to implement recommendations, disaster risk reduction and emergency response, spatial data and high interoperability, awareness of technology trends, best practices, and specific needs in Lao PDR.

Following opening remarks from the Director General of the Department of Technology and Innovation Mr. Soumana Chounlamany, MOST Vice Minister Mr. Houmphanh Intharath, Head of UN SPIDER mission Mr. Shirish Ravan, and interim UN Resident Coordinator Dr. Stephen Rudgard, PDC Southeast Asia Program Advisor Victoria Leat delivered a presentation on the Center’s DisasterAWARE early warning and decision support platform and its use in Southeast Asia. The workshop closed with remarks from the Ravan and Chounlamany.

To conclude the mission, the team provided a briefing for MOST Vice Minister Mr. Houmphanh Intharath and senior staff, outlining recommendations for the use of space-based information for disaster management by Lao PDR experts. The recommendations will be expanded upon in the final TAM report, which will be submitted to the Government within two months. UN-SPIDER, along with its partners, will then engage with the Government of the Lao PDR and others to help facilitate implementation of the recommendations.

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Pacific Disaster Center (PDC) envisions a safer, more secure world—where populations live in more disaster-resilient communities informed by science and technology, and equipped with sound decision support tools. To help make that vision a reality, PDC is dedicated to supporting evidence-based disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts by providing actionable information and applications to the public and disaster managers worldwide. PDC, a program managed by the University of Hawaii, was established by the U.S. government in 1996.