In Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Aide et Action’s education projects are temporarily on hold amid school closures during the Coronavirus pandemic. In response to the health crisis, Aide et Action is now working with local authorities to supply villages in need with sanitizer, masks, and educational posters to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Social distancing measures including closing all schools and many shops, closing all border checkpoints and restricted travel came into effect from mid-March. While the country has not recorded an increase in COVID-19 cases in 16 consecutive days as of April 28 2020, lockdown is set to remain in place until 3 May 2020 or until the government advises otherwise.
A lack of equipment during lockdown
While lockdown measures seem to have proved effective in controlling the spread of the virus, some contend that Lao PDR should still be considered a country at risk because it lacks the medical personnel and equipment to deal with a large coronavirus outbreak should it happen. Since the emergency was declared, staff at Aide et Action Lao have been working to identify the needs of beneficiaries and others.
Under the lockdown, all communities were instructed to stay home where possible and to practice good hygiene including regular hand washing and wearing a mask outside of home. However, supplies such as hand sanitizer and masks have been hard to come by. In communities across the country, local leaders such as village chiefs and deputies are forming task forces to implement lockdown measures such as check points but many lack the necessary equipment to do so safely.
Response activities launched
On 22 April 2020, Aide et Action, with approval from the government, launched response activities to provide 19 villages’ task forces within Vientiane province with necessary supplies of sanitsier, masks and educational posters on prevent best-practices. On 27 April 2020, the response was rolled out to Odomxay province. In total, across the two provinces, 81 bottles of hand sanitizer, 2,550 masks and 400 educational posters were distributed.
Mr. Jong XUA, the vice-head of Nongpor village, Feuang district, Vientiane province recently received supplies from Aide et Action. Speaking about the village’s need he said: “we need to make the villagers understand information about hygiene and sanitation and how it can protect them from virus. We need to assist children in continuing their learning through following the documents published by The Ministry of Education and Sports (MOES)”.
Education and solidarity can change everything
To promote increased access to education in LAO PDR, Aide et Action has submitted a updated version of its digital learning to MOES for approval. Globally, as children remain out of school, Aide et Action is seeking to develop flexible learning strategies to reach those who need it most.
In Lao PDR, to prepare children and teachers for returning to school, we are also planning teacher training sessions and an increased focus on hygiene education in schools. We believe that education and solidarity can change lives.