Lao’s agricultural development and the construction of essential infrastructure like roads have been severely limited by unexploded ordnance (UXO) left behind from the U.S. government’s massive aerial bombardment of Laos during the Vietnam War years. Between 1964 and 1973, the US waged a secret war on Laos in violation of the Geneva Accords, dropping more bombs over Laos than the total number of bombs dropped on Germany and Japan during World War II. Thirty percent of ordnance failed to detonate, leaving behind a deadly legacy that has hindered Lao’s socio-economic development and food security.
Many villagers in UXO affected areas face the dilemma of risking life and limb by tampering with UXO or continuing to live in impoverished conditions. Any development program–from road building to the construction of public health facilities and schools –requires substantial extra resources for UXO clearance.