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Enhancing the climate and disaster resilience in Lao PDR Making rural and emerging urban human settlements less vulnerable to climate change

Climate change is already causing economic loss and affecting the livelihoods of many people in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The country is one of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change, extreme weather events and rainfall irregularity, which is impacting physical infrastructure, health and food security. This is exacerbated due to its high dependence on natural resources and low adaptive capacity. The frequency and intensity of climate related hazards such as droughts and floods are expected to increase in the future and most severely hit the poorest areas of the country.

Tangko village

Lao PDR is urgently exploring ways to build its resilience by enhancing its adaptation efforts across sectors and concrete steps are being made. A project totaling US$ 4.5 million funded by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by UN-Habitat is enhancing climate and disaster resilience across 189 of the most vulnerable human settlements in eight districts of the southern provinces of Attapeu, Sekong, and Saravane (Salavan), by increasing sustainable access to basic infrastructure systems and services, as well as emphasizing resilience to storms, floods, droughts, landslides, and disease outbreaks. The southern urban settlement of Pheerkeo is also affected by floods on an annual basis.

Boy in Tangko village

In order to address the water shortages during these periods, UN-Habitat in coordination with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, built a borewell powered by solar panels with an overhead reservoir at 3 meters above ground level, benefiting 458 people with improved access to potable water.

In total, more than 125,000 people are benefiting from the construction of socially inclusive and climate-resilient infrastructure in the project. The project also has a focus on empowering women, with more than 40,000 women being engaged throughout its implementation.

Water supply system

In Tangko, one of the 189 villages identified as being highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, a simple and cost-effective gravity fed water supply system that taps into a reliable spring up a nearby mountain has been built. In this way, water is filtered and safely stored for ready use.

Now all households have kitchen gardens which supplement the available food and help through dry periods and their associated food insecurity.

Kitchen gardens

As highlighted by the Village Chief Sophone Pattachingtoko, after 4 months the household-level taps have made a big difference:

"Villagers have more time as they do not need to spend three hours or more fetching water each day which they can use to tend to their kitchen gardens and other livelihood activities”.
Woman chopping casaba with her daughter at the household doorstep, Dakcheung District, Sekong Province (Photo by UN-Habitat / Bernhard Barth)
“The girls in the village now regularly attend school. They do not have to fetch water anymore and we can already see that people in the village are healthier” - according to Ms. Yajao Patta.
Children in Tangko

Credits:

Bernhard Barth, Juan Torres