First Disaster Risk Management workshop convenes to protect Plain of Jars
The Plain of Jars is a national treasure for Lao PDR and of universal value for all of humanity. This unique site, however, is also under threat. A recent fire near one site has added urgency to efforts for disaster risk management, with other threats including weather damage, landslides, flooding and encroachment by vegetation, as well as human-made threats such as vandalism and irresponsible tourism.
In recognition central, the first Disaster Risk Management workshop was held in Xieng Khuang province in Lao PDR betweem 17-21 February 2020. The meeting convened Lao Government officials from the federal, provincial and village levels with the support of the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund, International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMO SPAFA), and UNESCO Bangkok.
The Megalithic Jar Sites in Xiengkhuang – Plain of Jars was inscribed on the World Heritage List in July 2019, which entailed 11 recommendations for the Lao Government to act upon before December 2021. From March to May 2020, GIS experts, academic staff and local villagers will conduct risk mapping as part of the plan to implement disaster management within the overall context of heritage management.
The 11-month project, running from October 2019 to August 2020, “Capacity Building of National Authorities and Local Communities for Disaster Risk Management and Emergency Preparedness at the Plain of Jars World Heritage Site” is supported by the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund. The project consists of the Disaster Risk Management workshop, risk mapping, the design of mitigation measures and emergency response that build on local communities, and field testing. The project is expected to deliver an enhanced awareness of disaster risk management, improve the understanding of disaster risks, and develope workable mitigation and emergency response protocols.
The Plain of Jars, located on a plateau in central Laos, gets its name from more than 2,100 tubular-shaped megalithic stone jars used for funerary practices in the Iron Age. This serial property of 15 components contains large carved stone jars, stone discs, secondary burials, tombstones, quarries and funerary objects dating from 500 BCE to 500 CE.
Main photo credit: ©Shutterstock/Stanislav Fosenbauer