Impact of Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) on Rural Communities' Livelihoods in Xiengkhouang Province, Lao PDR
For over 30 years since the end of the Second Indochina War, UXO (Unexploded Ordnance) contamination in Laos has been a major issue. Laos is considered the most heavily bombed country in the world in terms of quantity of ammunition per capita. Approximately 25 percent of the villages are contaminated with UXO, and a third of the country’s total area is covered by UXO contamination, comprising around 87 thousand square kilometres. This severely limits the expansion of agricultural production, which leads to scarcity of food supplies, and limits local people’s ability to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Thus, UXO is both a significant challenge to community development and national social and economic development. UXOs are also the cause of many accidents in Laos, the casualties are often farmers who are involved in agricultural activities. Between 1999 and 2012, 934 casualties which was divided into 655 injuries and 279 deaths. This study was conducted in Xienkhouang province, Lao PDR, a region heavily affected by UXO. The aim of this thesis is to explore the policies and institutions working on UXO in this province, the major difficulties rural communities face in their livelihoods in relation to UXO and the strategies they are using to cope with these difficulties, and to provide a reflection on how to improve support for these communities. Applying the sustainable livelihood framework as its conceptual framework, this research followed a qualitative approach involving the conduction of 24 semi-structured interviews, including 15 villagers and 9 interviews from organisations working on the UXO domain. Understanding of the impact of UXO on rural communities' livelihoods an their coping mechanism is crucial to expand debates within development studies in post-conflict settings, as well as for both practitioners and policy makers.