Lao, Singapore Red Cross tackling disaster risk

Members of the Lao and Singapore Red Cross are working together to upgrade staff’s practical skills so they can design community-based disaster risk reduction interventions while taking the local context into consideration.

The partnership between the Lao Red Cross and Singapore Red Cross is taking place under the Singapore Cooperation Programme.

The Lao Red Cross and Singapore Red Cross co-organised a Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction workshop last week, with the support of the Singapore Cooperation Programme, at the Laos-Singapore Cooperation Centre in Vientiane.

To create sustainable economic growth and alleviate poverty, Laos and Singapore share the common conviction that human resource development is critical.

The workshop took place from February 10-14 and targeted staff of relevant local government departments, local government units and leaders of non-governmental organisations.

Singapore Red Cross CEO and secretary-general Benjamin William said: “Southeast Asia is one of the most disaster-prone regions, so it is important for us to develop a strong culture of collaboration in disaster response, risk reduction, and preparedness.

“My hope is for this workshop to strengthen collaborations and partnerships on this very important issue,” he said.

Echoing William’s sentiments, Lao Red Cross vice-president Thongphachanh Sonnasinh said: “Individual countries cannot do much to cope with disasters alone . . . while Laos lacks many things that will enable us to cope with disasters, at least we have friends around that can help us cope with disasters when they arise.”

In her welcome speech to the participants, Singapore Ambassador to Laos Leow Siu Lin said: “This programme on community-based disaster risk reduction is particularly relevant for us all.

“Every country faces different levels of disaster risk and the workshop creates the opportunity for us to learn from one another.

“We hope that the workshop will equip participants with practical skills that will enable them to design community-based disaster risk reduction programmes that are suitable for their local context,” she said.

Since 1993, nearly 14,000 Lao officials have benefitted from training courses and study visits under the Singapore Cooperation Programme.

In June, the newly upgraded Laos-Singapore Cooperation Centre was officially opened, with new facilities to support more training programmes to be held in Vientiane.

Besides offering training courses for Lao government officials, the centre also supports Singapore entities in delivering their capacity building programmes in Laos.