Fire risk assessment in Vientiane Lao PDR - Piloting Community-based fired risk assessment and mitigation

Fire risk assessment in Vientiane Lao PDR - Piloting Community-based fired risk assessment and mitigation 

Chanthasack Bottaphanith

While in Lao PDR, floods have the greatest impact on the country's population as a whole, in urban areas fire and traffic accidents have the greatest impact in terms of lives lost, injuries, property and economic loss. Urban fires caused more devastating damage than any other hazard events over the past decade, particularly in Vientiane capital which is specifically susceptible to the recurring problem of fires. About 352 fire events were recorded between last 10 years with an estimated cost of loss more than five million of dollars. Dense building concentrations, narrow roads, flammable building materials, aging water supply and electrical system, as well as the lack of resources to upgrade preparedness and response skills have resulted in a growing risk of large scale, multiple structure fires. In addition, lack of appropriate mechanisms to guarantee the fire safety in new development is one cause.
The city government of Vientiane Capital wanted to know what could be done to reduce fire risks in the City. This is a reason of the Lao PDR Disaster Mitigation Project (LUDMP) had been established. The project focuses on incorporating risk management and hazard mitigation into development planning of urban areas calling "a fire risk zoning map approach", with the city of Vientiane capital as the pilot and under the direction of the National Disaster Management Office, and with the technical support of Public Works and Transport Institute (former Urban Research Institute).
A fire risk zoning map of Vientiane can help the city government to define and prioritize the fire risk in urban areas of Vientiane which divided into four categories of risk such as very high, high, moderate and low risk areas. During the LUDMP, Hatsady village was selected to undertake a community-based fire risk assessment process as a pilot project. The idea of this project is to involve the local residents or villagers into fire risk assessment and mitigation. During the pilot project implementation, it show the practical experience of the villagers as they worked together to identify their own vulnerabilities and developed their own strategies for reducing impact of future fire hazard. In addition, it shows how a community-based fire risk management becomes a key to overcoming recurring problems of fire.
The lesson learned from Hatsady project is, fire hazard are likely to happen, but if a community is prepared, its threat to life and property can be reduced. And involving of the community in the programs for reducing vulnerability to disasters I most effective because as direct beneficiaries, they can assess in detail their own physical, social and economic risks and can death with it in a more personal, direct and effective way.

Chanthasack Bottaphanith
Town Planning Section
Ministry of Public Works and Transport
Vientiane Capital, Laos