Lao WP Review of Water Resource Strategy towards 2025

“Many activities had been done and showed progress in the past five years, but there are also still remaining a lot of challenges and many IWRM activities need to be done in the coming years. However, the new phase of strategy implementation has to be improved and aligned with national natural resources strategy and other water related sector plans as well as the 8th national socio-economic development plans of the government 2016-2020” said Mr. Thoumma Saluemxay, Deputy Director General of Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The workshop on 26 May 2015 highlighted that The Lao National Water Resources Strategy and Action Plan 2011-2015 implementation and development is very crucial for water sector collaboration among stakeholders in the country since the last five years of review.


It provided key guidance and instruments for sustainable water resource management in the country in the more holistic and integrated approach. The overall objective of the strategy is to promote integrated management, utilization and development of water resources for the outmost benefits and sustainability, while ensuring environment protection, effective climate change adaptation and livelihood improvement. Three missions have been identified in the strategy namely: 1). Formulate sustainable development and water resource management plan with emphasis on creating a balance between socio-economic and ecosystem outcomes/benefit; 2). Encourage, promote ownership and participation of all stakeholders; and 3). Prioritize water allocation to meet basic needs of human, ensure fairness of water use and benefit sharing from the existing water resource development.


The strategy has outlined 12 programs including:


1.         Institutional Strengthening and Coordination;


2.         Legislation, Plans and Implementation;


3.         River Basin and Sub-river basins Management and Planning;


4.         Groundwater Management;


5.         Data and Information Management;


6.         Water Allocation;


7.         Water Quality Monitoring, Management and Ecosystems Protection;


8.         Wetland Management;


9.         Flood and Drought Management;


10.       Water Resource Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation;


11.       Sustainable IWRM Financing;


12.       Awareness, Participation and Capacity Building.


Regarding to implementation of the national water resources strategy and action plan, DWR-MONRE presented information on key reforms in Lao water resources management. In order to effectively manage the water and water resources, Government of Lao is working and defining clear responsibilities among the MONRE line agencies including central, provincial and district level, reviewed the new Water Resources Law and finalizing the new National Water Resources Strategy toward 2025 and Action Plan 2016-2020 (NWRSAP).  While doing these efforts there are some confronting challenges such as: new institutional structure, limited concerned staff capacity, lack of accurate and quantitative information, increased investment in related to water bodies, natural disaster as more frequent flood/flash flood happened, limited financial support and sustainable mechanism, etc.


In addition, some outstanding milestones have been progressed and achieved such as: Lao PDR has applied IWRM in some 6 major river basins and more than 13 sub-basins with expanding the lessons throughout the country, piloted water quality monitoring and management project with more than 158 monitoring stations across the basins in the country, studied and designed National IWRM Demonstration Site and training centre, IWRM training/capacity building Plan, studied on IWRM financing, public-private-community IWRM awareness and participation, drafting technical related IWRM technical guidelines such as river basin planning, surface water resource inventory, wetland inventory, water quality monitoring, groundwater management, state of river basin report or profile, stakeholder promotion in IWRM in the context of Lao PDR, preparing national water resources inventory and water resource database system, preparing and drafting national groundwater profile as well as its preliminary management plan, and etc.


In addition, the Department of Planning and Cooperation (DPC) of MONRE presented the latest draft of the MONRE Natural Resources and Environment Strategy 2025 (NRES). The strategy contains MONRE’s vision, aims, and strategy and 5-year action plan 2016-2020. There are seven thematic sections including water resources as a key element of the overall strategy. The draft strategy also refers to laws in the country as well as international conventions that Lao PDR has ratified and has joint signatory agreements. This NRES 2025 will be finalized and submitted to MPI and it will be a first big/overall strategy for the ministry ever. Each thematic section including water resources will have their own strategic and more detail action plan documents which will be key document to support the implementation of the NRES.


50 participants (14 females) from government institution, private sector, academe, Social Association, resource persons – MONRE and Ministry of Planning and Investment gave some comments and feedbacks during the workshop:


•There are many water-related legislation and strategy developments that are being developed, implemented and reviewed (water resource law, land and forestry laws, national water resources strategy and action plan etc.); It was suggested that these documents should be technically consistent and supported or supplemented each other.


•The water resource strategy and its action plan is significant part of the next 10-year Natural Resources and Environment Strategy and Action Plan 2016-2020.


•Climate change is also main factor that impacts to water resources that we have to consider and find long-term solutions for resilience and adaptation that should integrate into next action plan of water resources.


•Awareness raising for local people on natural resources conservation and sustainable development is very important and need to conduct regularly as series and widely expansion to all of the 18 provinces in the country.


•Promote sustainable development in the water-related development project design and implementation in the country with participation of all related sectors especially private sectors and local actors.


•This discussion is set as high priority of Government of Lao PDR (GoL) which supported and was in-line with the need of national water resource strategy review/update as well as development and finalization of natural resources and environment and next 5 year socio-economic development plan of GoL 2016-2020, strategy 2025 and vision 2030.


•The participants recognized and gained more knowledge on the progress and issues of IWRM implementation in Lao PDR which presented and discussed for the period of past 5 years (2011-2015) which review mainly focused on water law approval and implementation, new updated strategy finalization and dissemination, river basin planning and related guidelines (water quality, groundwater, inventory, stakeholder promotion), need more financial support from both GOL and external, IWRM education in National University of Laos, water quality laboratory, etc.


•In summary, practical comments and recommendation for better IWRM implementation in Lao PDR for the next 5 year plan (2016-2020) identified in the key: secure IRBM in 10 priority RBs, increase more synergy of related water use sectors, linkage of the water legislation and other water use sectors, improve sector coordination, secure sustainability and green growth, more awareness to stakeholder and local villagers, engage more private sector, use and apply technology for water utilization, water & climate change, etc. Water resource is among key 7 thematic areas in MONRE strategy 2025.


Follow up Action:


•To support to consolidate and update the national water resources strategy 2025 and action plan 2016-2020


•Integrate recommendation and key statements of national water resources strategy into natural resources and environment strategy 2025 and 8th national socio-economic development plans 2016-2020.


•Circulate the improved documents to participants and line agencies for further information and comments.


•Continuously conduct awareness raising activities on IWRM and natural resources conservation and sustainable development.


•Seek the project on sustainable water resources management and development.