Lao PDR to Strengthen Resilience to Natural Disasters and Improve Water Resources Management

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WASHINGTON, July 7, 2017 – Lao PDR is taking steps to lessen the impact of natural disasters and will continue to improve the country’s national water resources management systems, in partnership with the World Bank. The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved financing support of $30 million for the Lao PDR Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Project and $25 million of additional funding for the Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management (MIWRM) Project.   Through the DRM Project, communities across Lao PDR will benefit from more reliable early warning information, and from improved disaster recovery financing mechanisms. The water management project will benefit the general population through better water monitoring by establishing a national water quality laboratory and assessing water availability under different climate conditions. “We welcome World Bank support to improve disaster resilience and to better manage our rich water resources, which is well-aligned with the priorities of our 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2016-2020,” said Dr. Khamlien Pholsena, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment. “Lao PDR is vulnerable to climate and disaster risks. We need to integrate risk management into planning, investments in early warning, and appropriate financing instruments, to reduce disaster costs and sustain economic progress.” Aiming to reduce the impacts of flooding and enhance the government’s capacity to provide hydro-meteorological services and to finance disaster response to national emergencies, the DRM project is co-financed by a $1 million grant from the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (SEADRIF), a multi-donor trust fund. It will help the Ministry of Finance prepare and implement disaster risk financing instruments, and strengthen its capacity for financial planning for disaster resilience. The Project is part of a Southeast Asia regional program on disaster risk management, financed by the World Bank, which includes a series of projects in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar. Nearly 100,000 people will benefit from the DRM Project in the Muang Xay area of Oudomxay Province which would serve as a model to other cities frequently affected by flooding. “As Lao PDR rapidly develops, more natural resources will risk depletion or contamination, and more people and assets will be exposed to disaster risks, unless necessary investments are made,”  said Ellen Goldstein, the new World Bank Country Director for Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Myanmar. “These two projects will complement each other to ensure that Lao PDR is able to manage natural resources in a way that protects people and livelihoods from disasters and sustains its rich fisheries, wetlands and aquatic resources.” The water management project seeks to develop a functional national level water resources management system to sustainably manage hydropower, irrigation, and water supply resources, while protecting the environment and reducing flood and drought risks associated with climate change. The first phase of the project, approved in 2012, has developed the building blocks for water resources management, provided sustainable irrigation of over 14,000 hectares of land, improved flood control infrastructure, including 4 modified flood gates, and introduced community fisheries through 30 Fisheries Management Committees. The additional financing extends this project to 2021 and seeks to build upon these foundations.

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