Laos experiences heavy monsoon rains, a dam break, and flooding

By August 15, 2018

Laos (MNN) — Monsoon season is hitting Laos hard. Not only are the rains heavy, but they caused a dam to break last week. Operation Mobilization’s Ellyn Schellenberg says the combination has led to flooding in southern Laos and other regions. These areas are home to impoverished farmers.

(Header photo and photo courtesy of Adam Cohn via Flickr)

“But there’s a lot of poverty. And so, when you have flooding, what can happen is that people lose their entire crop for that year. And in this situation, they’ve actually had so much flooding that some places where they had storehouses with extra grain from last year or the seeds for next year, those places have actually flooded as well,” Schellenberg shares.

These farmers have little to nothing to fall back on. Schellenberg says the UN reports it could take several months for the mud to dry out in some areas. Until it dries out, it is hard to tell the impact the flooding has had on the soil. If the topsoil has been removed, farmers will need to consider purchasing new seeds and new soil, on top of reconstructing their homes.

Landmines Washed Up

However, the flooding has also caused a very different problem. Landmines scattered under shallow ground have been shifted to different places by the water. This puts farmers at risk, who may find them in their fields, but also children when they are playing.

“They are low impact. You step on them and there’s a small detonation that normally does not result in death, but it does result in severe injury—loss of a limb or other kinds of injuries like that. It’s pretty catastrophic… for those to move,” Schellenberg says.

Areas of Laos which were once deemed bomb free will now need to be scanned and possibly have landmines removed again.

Morale of the Locals

Eventually, rebuilding will happen. OM in Laos, whose team has not been affected by the flooding, partners with local Christians in the country. OM and its partners are a part of the recovery process and will help when rebuilding begins.

“Besides handing out food, which is the immediate need right now in a lot of places, we’re looking at opportunities to help communities rebuild. This will look different in different parts of the country because there will be different needs,” Schellenberg says.

(Photo courtesy of Sacha Fernandez via Flickr)

The could mean rebuilding schools and houses. But for now, it means answering the immediate physical needs of locals.

It is important for the global body of Christ to be concerned with what is happening to and within Laos.

For many in this Southeast Asian country, the future appears to be hopeless. People have watched, unable to act, as their family members were swept away by the flooding. Some families have lost everything. How can someone continue living when life has been all but destroyed?

Laos desperately needs the hope of Christ.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to partner with them. To share about a hope and a future that does exist, that they maybe just haven’t heard about yet. And that working through the local church is a great way to be able to not only encourage those local believers that people are standing behind them in prayer and support, but that they’re also facilitating the positive transformation in their local community,” Schellenberg explains.

Pray for the Church in Laos to stand firm in its faith, be a positive witness, and show wisdom during this situation.

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