UNOOSA and UNITAR-UNOSAT request activation of International Charter for floods in Lao People’s Democratic Republic

The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) have jointly activated the International Charter “Space and Major Disasters” for the recent floods in Lao People’s Democratic Republic on 24 July 2018. UNOOSA activated the Charter on behalf of the country’s Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of Disaster Management and Climate, while UNITAR-UNOSAT activated the emergency mechanism on behalf of the World Food Program (WFP). At least 20 people have been killed and hundreds of people remain missing after floods struck the country's Attapeu province. The collapse of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy hydroelectric dam released 5 billion cubic meters of water downstream, flooding at least 7 villages and washing away homes. Emergency responders are now working to rescue people from the area, evacuate them to emergency shelters and search for the missing. Local authorities have also appealed to government bodies and other communities to provide emergency aid such as clothing, food, drinking water and medicine. UNITAR-UNOSAT will act as project manager for the activation. Two [UN-SPIDER Regional Support Offices](/network/regional-support-offices) are contributing to this Charter activation: The Asia Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) are acting as so-called [Value Added Providers]( by assessing satellite imagery of the affected area and developing maps to deliver to the end user on the ground. UNOOSA is a Cooperating Body of the Charter and has been able to request its activation on behalf of United Nations organizations engaged in disaster response activities. Since earlier this year, UNOOSA can [also request the activation](/news-and-events/news/unoosa-activation-privileges-international-charter-augmented-include-national) of the Charter on behalf of national disaster risk management (DRM) organizations, facilitating their access to satellite data. Through UN-SPIDER activities, the Office continues to promoting the Universal Access Initiative of the Charter with the goal of making national DRM users aware of the initiative and supporting them in becoming Authorized Users of the Charter. UN-SPIDER conducted a Technical Advisory Mission (TAM) in Lao PDR in 2015. 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. UN-SPIDER organized in-depth observations of the current state of use of earth observation and geospatial information in Lao PDR by all stakeholders of disaster management, and understood the challenges and constraints the country is facing to make effective use of these technologies in disaster management. Further information about the activation and other information products is available on the related [UN-SPIDER emergency support page](/advisory-support/emergency-support/floods-dam-lao-pdr).