and Choung Phanrajsavong
Water Resources Coordination Committee Secretariat, Lao PDR
in cooperation with
Le Huu Ti
Economic Affairs Officer
Water Resources Section
Environment and Sustainable Development Division
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific
Senior Water Management Officer
Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
The World Water Vision process and the Second World Water Forum held
in March 2000 have
generated a great deal of enthusiasm for better management of water resources in the region, as well as elsewhere. Building on this enthusiasm, a regional programme of cooperation involving FAO, UNESCAP, and selected countries in the region was launched in 2000 to promote the process of developing national water visions. In the initial phase of this programme that was implemented between 2000 and 2001, four country case studies were carried out in Southeast Asia with funding from FAO. Subsequently, a report containing the four country case studies and a synthesis of the related lessons was published (Le Huu Ti and T. Facon, 2001) and widely disseminated.
A second phase of this regional cooperation project was carried out between 2002 and 2003 involving three of the least developed countries in Southeast Asia, namely Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, and Myanmar.
This present report summarizes the results of previous studies related to the water resources management in Lao PDR and presents the findings of the Lao PDR country case study carried out as part of the second phase of the regional cooperation programme.
Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is a landlocked country
with an area of 236 800
square kilometres, most of which is mountainous and about 47 percent is forested. The country has 16 provinces, one municipality and a special zone. Lao PDR has the third lowest population of the ASEAN countries. The estimated year 2000 population is 5 218 000, giving an average population density of 21 people per square kilometre. Population density ranges from 149 people per square kilometre in Vientiane Municipality to eight people per square kilometre in Xaysomboun Special Zone. In some of the mountainous areas the population is very scattered.
The Lao people include many ethnic
groups with different customs and beliefs.
These must be
taken into account in the socio-economic development of the country. The main impediments to
socio-economic development include a high illiteracy rate, high birth and infant mortality rates, low productivity, lack of experienced staff and skilled labour, and a legal and regulatory system that is still incomplete. However, Lao PDR has a high potential for socio-economic development owing to its abundant natural resources, especially water resources, which have yet to be exploited fully.
The agricultural sector is the foundation of the country's current socio-economic development. It accounts for the largest share of the country's foreign exchange earnings (40 percent), about 52 percent of the GDP, and 85.5 percent of the employment. The industrial and service sectors are in their infancy. However, hydropower is one of the main export sectors of the country and production for export is expected to double in the next ten years.
This policy focuses on:
The long-term socio-economic development goals of the country are to increase the national income and achieve a better living standard for the people, while protecting the environment and maintaining the culture of the Lao people.
To achieve the objectives of socio-economic development, the government has identified eight priority programmes as follows:
Lao PDR has abundant water and water resources. The annual average rainfall is 1 650 mm ranging from 1 300 mm/year in the north, 1 500 mm/year in the central regions, to 2 000 mm/year in the south, whereas on the Boloven plateau it is 3 700 mm/year. The average flow from the tributaries of the Mekong river is 8 500 m3/second or 35 percent of the total flow within the Mekong river basin.
The abundant water resources in Lao PDR have the potential to support socio-economic development, especially the hydropower and irrigation subsectors. The hydropower potential of Lao PDR is large compared to other countries in the lower Mekong river basin, providing an opportunity to earn foreign income. The hydropower sector also has the ability to develop rapidly, indeed it has multiplied its production fivefold from 247 million kilowatt hours in 1976 to 1 187 million kilowatt hours in 1999 when it exported 473 million kilowatt hours. The government has given high priority to investment in the irrigation subsector since agriculture is the foundation of national economic development, is necessary for food stabilization and about 85 percent of the population lives in rural areas. From 1976 to 2000, the area of irrigated dry season rice increased from 2 700 ha to 110 000 ha. The irrigation subsector also significantly increased the average yield of rainfed paddy rice from 1.43 t/ha in 1976 to 3.27 t/ha in 2000. However, water resources development is still at a low level: irrigated area is only 20 percent of the national paddy area and hydropower production is still at two percent of its potential of 30 000 MW. Development in other sectors is still at a low level compared to hydropower and irrigation.
Although some advances have been achieved in the water sector, problems still remain. These include: unusual rainfall patterns in some years, high rates of evaporation, flood and drought in some of the main agricultural areas of the country; the impact of shifting cultivation on water resources (although this activity has been significantly reduced); and conflict of interests for management within the sector since most water subsector agencies are still responsible for regulation, management and service provision.
In order to achieve sustainable exploitation of water and water resources and to improve their management the following managerial, legal and institutional changes in the water sector have been made:
The Water and Water Resources Law (approved October 1996), the Environmental Protection Law (approved April 1999), and some Ministerial decrees and regulations have been approved. These latter regulations are to implement the Water and Water Resources Law and some other related laws.
The mandate of the Water Resources Coordination Committee (approved February 1999) established the Water Resources Coordination Committee within the Prime Minister's Office. The Committee is to provide advice to the government on matters related to water and water resources and to coordinate the planning, management, follow-up, inspection and protection of water and water resources aimed at their sustainable development and utilization in line with the government's socio-economic development policy.
The mandate of the Lao National
Mekong Committee has been updated (approved November 1999) and it is to
formulate policy, strategic plans, water resources related development projects
and programmes within the Mekong basin, taking into consideration the
protection of the environment and ecological balance, and community
participation. It also cooperates with
other Mekong riparian countries,
various non-Mekong riparian countries and foreign donors. The Lao National Mekong Committee's aim is to ensure the fruitful implementation of water resources development projects within the territory of Lao PDR.
A policy identifying the different management responsibilities of central and district authorities has been adopted: The provincial level authorities are to undertake strategic planning; the district level authorities are to be responsible for planning and budgeting; and the village level authorities are to implement the plans.
A process of institutional review has been commenced to separate the regulatory, standard setting and management functions at the national level and improve the efficiency of management, development and social services.
A policy of public involvement in water resources management and development has been implemented. Examples include consultation on planning hydropower development projects and user involvement in rural water supply and small irrigation schemes.
Regulations and measures have been adopted to attract private participation and direct foreign investment in water resources development. There are several examples of such direct investment in the hydropower sector.
A draft decree on the water and water resources law is being prepared in order to clarify the responsibilities of agencies within the subsectors for managing, exploiting, using and developing water and water resources.
There are 12 agencies within the water sector and a further 10 agencies have a direct interest in it. These agencies and their responsibilities and roles are set out in Table 3.1. In this table the following definitions are used:
Regulator refers to a body that develops high level policy, defines the broad outcomes sought by the government for the management and use of natural resources, sets standards or performance targets, and audits and reports to the government on the performance of other bodies in meeting those standards or targets. It may also approve lower level policy and management plans developed by the manager.
Manager refers to a body that assesses the ongoing status and availability of natural resources, develops and coordinates the implementation of lower level policies that set out in more detail how the resources will be both protected and utilized, develops and coordinates the implementation of plans for the management of specific resources, grants rights (permits/licenses) to use the resources, sets the conditions for the access and enjoyment of those rights, and monitors, reviews and reports on the use of the resources.
Table 3.1 Organizations with a direct interest in the water sector
Science, Technology and Environment Agency, Office of the Prime Minister
Has overall responsibility for activities related to science, technology and the environment. Coordinates agencies related to research and management of scientific, technological and environmental affairs. Ensures Lao PDR is up to date in scientific and technological advancements. Regulates wastewater disposal.
National Mekong Committee Secretariat, State Planning Committee
Coordinates international aid assistance associated with investigation and development of the water resources of the Lower Mekong river basin. Follows up, controls and supervises utilization of that aid and reports regularly on the outcome and execution of each project.
Department of Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MAP)
Implements government policies, strategies and programmes related to the development and management of irrigation, drainage and rural flood control. Monitors and evaluates data and information on irrigation and reports on changing situations. Issues standards relating to irrigation survey and design.
Regulator/ Manager and Service Provider
Department of Livestock and Fisheries, MAP
Implements government policies, strategies and programmes related to the management of fisheries (and livestock). Monitors and evaluates data and information related to fisheries (and livestock) and reports on changing situations.
Department of Meteorology and Hydrology, MAP
Collects, evaluates and disseminates rainfall, evaporation, river height and flow information for the Lao hydrometeorology network.
Inland Waterway Division of Communication Department, Ministry of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction (MCTPC)
Manages the use of waterways for transport and ensures safe navigation via dredging and navigation aids. Responsible for riverbank and urban flood protection. Collects hydrologic and hydrographic data on Mekong river and main tributaries.
Manager and Service Provider
Department of Housing and Urban Planning, MCTPC
Responsible for formulating the urban water supply strategy, preparing the training programme on planning and management, drafting regulations and standards.
Water Supply Authority, MCTPC
Assists the MCTPC on technical issues including detailed elaboration of strategic plan, directing the implementation of the water supply sector policy, strategy and development plan.
State Pnterprises Water Supply (Vientiane Municipality and Provincial Nam Papa)
Supplies water to urban locations (greater than 2 000 ha and density greater that 30 people/ha); Implements guidelines for drinking water quality (WHO); manages sewerage and drainage.
Department of Plectricity (DOP), Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts (MIH)
Determines policies, plans, laws and regulations for developing and controlling the production and distribution of electricity. Reviews and evaluates power project proposals, contracts and agreements.
Plectricite du Laos (PDL) State-owned Corporation, MIH
Owns and operates main public sector generation, transmission and distribution assets. Undertakes project development and joint ventures.
Department of Industry, MIH
Determines policies, plans regulations and standards relating to industrial wastewater.
National Institute of Hygiene & Ppidemiology Rural Water Supply, Ministry of Health
Formulation of rural supply policy and strategy, responsible for developing water and sanitation services to non-urban locations. (Nam Sa-at)
Service provider refers to a body that provides local services relatedd to water, such as water supply, irrigation, information, technical and scientific expertise or advice on water issues, or government funding for users. Such bodies may construct, operate and maintain works to control the supply and delivery of the resource or a service (e.g. drainage) to a number of users. It may issue permits or licenses to users, but should be licensed by the manager if the body has responsibility for significant use of the water and water resources.
The objective of the Policy on Water and Water Resources is to ensure that the management, exploitation, use and development of water and water resources are sustainable, equitable, and support the goals of socio-economic development and environmental protection in Lao PDR.
This Policy specifically emphasizes cross-sector issues, which are important to present and future activities in the water sector. The policy does not discuss issues specific to a single water subsector and it is recommended that these issues be covered in subsector water policies. However, this policy is to be the basis for any policies developed for the water and water resources subsectors.
The Policy on Water and Water Resources addresses seven areas as follows:
Water and water resources management is to be undertaken by subsectors in order to be consistent with the policy of decentralization and to ensure coordination among the water and water resources subsectors and provincial authorities.
The relationships between
processes for water and water resources development planning and
socio-economic planning, and the roles and responsibilities of the subsectors are to be clarified by approving regulations on water and water resource planning processes and methodologies.
Coordination arrangements are to be identified and established between water and water resource and land and forest subsectors of the economy to ensure the sustainability of water resources.
Coordination systems related to the management, development, exploitation and use of water are to be established among the water and water resource subsectors and among the different provinces to increase water use efficiency, and to ensure environmental sustainability.
The processes and methodologies for updating the Water and Water Resources Policy, the National Water and Water Resources Management Plan and other water source management plans are to be identified to ensure compatibility with changing socio-economic conditions and priorities for water use.
The responsibility for water and water resources in individual river basins must be assigned to existing organizations or to newly established organizations, which are to be designed to suit the location, size, human and social values, characteristics of the river basin and opportunity for development. The river basin organization must ensure that the local authority and community are appropriately involved and must report periodically on the status of the water and water resources to the Prime Minister's Office to ensure efficient management of water and water resources.
The decree to implement the water and water resources law must be urgently developed and must identify the process, methodologies and the sharing of responsibilities among the water subsectors and local authorities for implementing that law, including responsibilities for developing related regulations that may be required to avoid inefficient and unsustainable water resource development.
Drafting regulations and management of water resources must be included in the annual, five-year and long-term plans of the water and water resources subsectors and the Water Resources Coordination Committee. Budgets will be allocated for the activity of developing regulations.
With regard to planning and implementation of water resources development projects, each water and water resources subsector must coordinate their activities to take into account needs at the national and local level, issues of economic and financial efficiency, social equity, environmental impacts, and to allow the government to meet its international obligations.
National water resources development and management planning is to be prioritized and provide the basis for subsectoral and local water resource development projects. The national plans must include plans for emergencies, floods and droughts.
An integrated river basin management and development plan is to be developed for those sub-basins of the Mekong river and sub-basins of other rivers that are important for socio-economic development plans at the national and local level, or which have a high potential for water use conflicts. These integrated river basin management and development plans must include groundwater where appropriate.
Water resource development projects and water resource management plans must be coordinated with land and forest management plans. The public is to be involved in developing and implementing these plans. The environmental impacts of implementing plans are to be assessed.
Community benefit through the public involvement process must be taken into account when initiating water resource development projects and water resource management plans.
Ecosystems of rivers that have a high potential for hydropower and irrigation projects or for conflict over water use, are be analysed to enable the development of water quality and quantity standards necessary for the protection of the environment.
Public involvement in the management, development and protection of water and water resources will be promoted. This involvement will allow for differences in society, culture and customs of the ethnic groups.
Guidelines for the process and methodology of public involvement in planning, implementing and management of water source development projects will be developed.
The capacity and institutional strength of relevant organizations to implement policies for public involvement will be increased and awareness developed to achieve community ownership of water and water resources management, development and protection.
Information on water and water resources status and trends, and the subsectoral activities will be disseminated to the public to achieve effective management and protection of water and water resources.
Water users' education, which has been initiated in the irrigation, rural water supply, and fisheries subsectors, will be further developed and appropriately extended to other water subsectors. In collaboration with the education sector, the media and mass organizations, a programme of public awareness on the protection of water resources will be initiated.
Regulations and methodologies will be used as necessary to ensure the economic efficiency of water resource developments and their environmental sustainability. Investment in the water and water resources subsectors will be promoted by giving high priority to hydropower, irrigation, urban and rural water supply. The efficiency of existing water resource developments and uses will be promoted by involvement of the beneficiaries in the management of water resource development projects and by implementing necessary regulations.
The selection of water resources development projects must take into account the readiness and, except in the case of projects for poverty alleviation, the ability of users to make a contribution. Management responsibility will be transferred to the direct beneficiaries of existing water resources development projects, where appropriate.
When initiating projects using state budgets, the source of funds for operation and maintenance, and the level of contribution by beneficiaries must be clearly identified in order to reduce the demand on the state budget.
Charges for water use should consider the capability of low-income families to pay. The structure of these charges should create economic incentives to increase the efficiency of water use and should generate sufficient revenue for management, operation and maintenance and allow eventual expansion of the supply system.
Each subsector will encourage direct private and foreign investment to reduce demands on limited public funds while using appropriate measures to ensure the nation benefits.
Water allocation, and the monitoring and management of water quality methods and systems must be developed through analysis, research and implementation in selected areas and gradually introduced throughout the country. The management of water use in the subsectors should be promoted by training and awareness of the users. License and water use fees and other measures should be introduced to increase water use efficiency.
Water allocation plans for water
resources important for national and local socio-economic development plans, or
which have a high potential for cross-sector conflicts over water use are to be
a priority. Where water allocation plans have yet to be developed, guidelines and measures to share water equitably and minimize the effects of a crisis or emergency are to be developed.
Water allocation plans must take into account domestic uses, cultural and social activities, environmental protection and existing water users. The plans must also link with land and forest use management plans. The plans must identify the processes and the methodologies to modify and to update water allocation in order to adjust to changing conditions.
Water quality must be periodically monitored and waste disposal to rivers controlled by appropriate measures. Public awareness of the need to protect the riverine environment must be increased.
Protected areas are to be defined to ensure water quality and quantity for human consumption. Activities such as construction, manufacturing and use of land for any purpose will be prohibited in these areas.
Permits must be obtained for disposal of waste water and any use of water other than small-scale use. The permit must clearly identify the purpose of the use, or wastewater discharge and any conditions applying. A fee for the permit will be levied and will be based on the purpose, size, location of the use and disposal, duration and measures for protecting the environment and other water users.
Work plans of organizations responsible for the management, development, and exploitation of water and water resources must include activities for the promotion of effective water and water resources use and their protection.
Data and information collection, analysis, exchange and management must be coordinated and improved to reduce duplication and ensure accuracy and reliability of data and information.
Water related data collected by government agencies shall be considered as the property of the state and be accessible to agencies in the water resources subsectors and other stakeholders under the terms stipulated in the regulations.
Regulations and data use fees will be developed and implemented, taking into consideration objectives for widespread data dissemination, cost recovery, sustainability and expansion of the data collection network.
Data necessary for the management and development of water and water resources that are important for national and local socio-economic development plans or that have a high potential for cross-sector water use conflict should be collected and analysed.
Management and technical staff at all levels should be encouraged to continually upgrade their capacities through various means to be specified in human resources and capacity building plans, appropriate to the mandates of each organization and the responsibilities of each officer. The plans will also indicate actions to improve working procedures, regulations, and guidelines to improve the efficiency in implementing government policy.
The plans will emphasize the urgent necessity to implement laws, decrees, regulations for the integrated and sustainable management and development of water resources.
They will include prioritized actions to strengthen institutions at provincial and district levels to increase their efficiency in implementing decentralization policy that specifies a strategic role for provincial authorities, a planning and budget role for district authorities, and an implementation role for village authorities.
Water resource development plans or projects should consider the ability of the line agencies to implement projects and must include human resource development and capacity building to improve the effectiveness in implementing projects or plans.
On the basis of previous studies and also in line with the
experiences from the World Water Vision
process at the global and regional levels, including advice provided by the Southeast Asia Technical Advisory Committee of the Global Water Partnership, the following vision statement was discussed and adopted at the Consultation Workshop on Programme For Action of the Water Sector organized by the Water Resources Coordination Committee on 25 March 2002 in Phonsavanh, Xieng Khouang Province, Lao PDR.
“To Achieve the Coordinated Development and Management of Water and Water Resources for the Health, Wealth and Happiness of the People”
Also on the same occasion, it was felt necessary to address the priority goals of the socio-economic development process of the country as reflected in the following overall target for the water sector:
“To contribute effectively to the national programme of poverty alleviation and the socio-economic development objective of liberating the country from the status of least-developed country”
As a coordinating agency without a management role in any specific water subsector, the Water Resources Coordination Committee works closely with all water related line agencies in the preparation of the Programme For Action and also gathers inputs from other institutions that have an interest in the management of water resources through consultation meetings. The main role of the Water Resources Coordination Committee here is to consolidate in a single document the strategy and the programme for action of line agencies that were formulated independently with no institutionalized coordinating mechanism.
Basically, the Programme For
Action prepared by the Water Resources Coordination Committee for
the Consultation Workshop covers four main aspects of water resources management: (1) development; (2) management; (3) regulation and legislation; and (4) conservation/protection.
The Programme For Action for the water sector presented hereunder was based on the results of the Consultation Workshop and should only be considered in the context of the workshop. The view and ideas expressed by participants do not necessarily represent those of their agencies.
The planning time horizon for short-term targets is 2005. This date coincides with the time frame of the national socio-economic development plan. The proposed short-term targets of each water subsector Programme For Action are based on the respective five-year plan targets.
At this stage there is no documented long-term sector plan beyond the five-year plan. Therefore, the targets proposed for the long-term Programme For Action are rather an indication of what the participants from each subsector consider as appropriate based on their own experiences and their views regarding the subsector strategy. No common time frame could be decided because water subsectors have different time horizons for strategic planning. Therefore, the date for the long-term target could vary from year 2010 to year 2020.
The meeting agreed that subsector targets should be rearranged under the following headings as deemed appropriate:
Although this set of targets is not comprehensive, it does reflect the main activities in the water sector for the forthcoming years.
Participants to the Consultation Workshop included senior government officials from central and provincial water-related agencies. Most participants had been involved in drafting the water sector policy decree to implement the Water and Water Resources Law and in formulating the sector vision.
Major water supply targets and the Programme For Action in urban communities are shown below:
Targets for 2005 include:
Targets for 2025 include:
In order to achieve the above-mentioned targets, the programme for action up to 2005 will focus on:
In order to promote integrated water resources management, a
national workshop was held from
17-18 October 2002 in Keo-Oudom, Vientiane Province, attended by 41 participants from various ministerial and provincial agencies and mass media organizations. A specific aim of the workshop was to identify issues and perspectives in the management of water resources of various sectors in the country. It was also expected that the workshop would come up with priority recommendations on integrated water resources management. On the basis of previous studies, it was decided to focus the discussion on four key areas:
The following issues were recommended as priority issues that need to be addressed for successful implementation of integrated water resources management in the country.
The Draft Water Sector Policy Framework should be updated to include:
Moreover, it was felt that the updated draft policy framework should be discussed in detail with all concerned, submitted to the higher authority for approval and used as a basis for preparing a detailed water policy.
As regards the water subsectors, priority should be given to:
All participants recognized that the enforcement of the Water and Water Resources Law and related regulations is still very weak and that there is an urgent need for improvement, starting with the broad dissemination of information and the preparation of education and public awareness programmes. Most participants identified that one of the major issues is the lack of a strong and effective regulatory institution in most, if not all, water subsectors.
Most of the competition or conflict related to water use has been solved at operational level by local authorities. There is no institutionalized mechanism for solving water use competition and conflict. Several examples were given by participants. Project planning has been carried out in isolation and therefore has sometimes led to water use conflicts not only between different users, but also between users of the same subsectors. These two issues should be addressed as soon as possible as serious conflicts on water use, especially in the dry season, may occur in the future.
As regards the sharing and management of data collection, most participants expressedthat the problem is not only the lack of data, but also the lack of management of existing data. Sometimes data is kept with individuals and not with the organization, and access to data depends on having a good connection or relation with a particular individual. Sometime, data is given free of charge, thus there is no sharing of the cost of data collection, processing and storing. This issue needs to be discussed and a clear policy on data management needs to be formulated.
The workshop expressed support for the Draft Public Awareness Programme prepared by the Water Resources Coordination Committee Secretariat in consultation with line agencies concerned, which proposed to focus on:
The participants considered the need for training on a number of topics, as follows:
Highest priority was given to training and capacity building in the fields of policy and regulations. This opinion reflects well the present situation of the water sector. It is clear that the water sector in the country still lacks policies and regulations on cross sectoral as well as subsectoral matters. Training on public participation, gender issues and conservation of the environment was also considered to be important.
On the basis of the experiences related to the establishment of the
framework for action in association
with the Southeast Asia Technical Advisory Committee of the Global Water Partnership as well as the findings of the first phase of the FAO-UNESCAP Regional Cooperation Project, the following four themes were identified as priority activities required for the realization of the Lao National Water Vision as part of the national socio-economic development process:
The above four themes were adopted for consideration by four working groups for the round-table workshop on the formulation of the national water vision to action plan, jointly organized by the Water Resources Coordination Council Secretariat in cooperation with UNESCAP and FAO in Vientiane from 18-19 December 2002. The main findings are summarized below.
Under this theme, three priority objectives from several objectives of water resources development for rural development and poverty reduction were selected as follows:
In order to create a conducive environment to achieve the above objectives at the national level, the working group suggested the following measures:
The working group also identified the following most common issues faced in achieving the three above priority objectives:
The working group identified the following agencies to be the key actors for the respective three priority objectives: (1) Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, (2) Ministry of Public Health, and (3) Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts. They also recommended the following priority actions to be taken for the three priority objectives:
In order to help monitor progress in the implementation of priority activities, the working group identified key indicators and proposed targets, based on previous studies.
For agricultural development, indicators will be based on expected increases in incomes of the targeted areas. For the pilot area in the northern part of the country, GDP per capita is proposed to increase from the current level of US$240 to US$500/yr in 2010. For this purpose, it is expected that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, provincial authorities and the Ministry of Trade will play the key roles.
Detailed activities to be carried out within the time frame up to 2010 would include the following:
For the supply of drinking and domestic water, it was proposed that the number of people with access to water would increase from the current level of 52 to 60 percent in 2005 and 80 percent in 2020. To achieve this, the Ministry of Public Health and the Clean Water Authority would need to undertake the following priority activities:
With the development of small hydropower potentials, it was expected that 20 percent of the households in the North would be provided with electricity from hydropower by 2010. It was proposed that the key agencies, namely the Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, Water Resources Coordination Committee and Science, Technology and Environment Agency, would undertake the following priority activities:
The working group also identified major existing programmes that may have complementary roles in achieving the three above-mentioned objectives as follows:
In promoting coordination for agriculture and rural development, the working group recommended the following key functions be played by the Water Resources Coordination Committee:
With regard to with these coordinating functions, it was recommended that the following priority activities be undertaken by Water Resources Coordination Committee:
Considering different opportunities, the rich resources and the strategic geographical location of the country, the working group recommended the following priority objectives for economic development and nature conservation:
In view of the limitation in
financial and human resources faced by the country, it was recommended that
strategies to achieve the above three priority objectives would involve the
a conducive environment and mobilization of financial resources for the development of tourism,
water-borne transport and conservation of water resources.
Apart from the lack of financial resources, major issues faced in the development process for the three priority objectives were identified as follows:
The working group identified the following agencies as the key actors in the implementation of the above strategies: Ministry of Industry and Handicrafts, the Lao Tourism Authority, Ministry of Communication, Transport, Post and Construction, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Committee for Planning and Cooperation.
The following priority courses of actions were recommended for the establishment of a conducive environment for the development of these areas: law and feasibility studies, water resources conservation activities, investigation of potential tourism sites, survey and inventory of islands and rapids, and mobilization of funds.
In order to help monitor progress towards achieving the above priority objectives, the following indicators and targets were suggested:
It was recommended that a mechanism with tools and capacity for monitoring and reporting of progress be set up, especially with respect to the mobilization of financial resources to complement the limited budgetary resources of the government and the process of capacity building and technology transfer.
The following priority activities were identified:
In reviewing the current conditions, several lessons were drawn from problems with the existing development coordination mechanisms, particularly with respect to the availability of sufficient water to meet all purposes. For example, in Nam Kor in Udomxay Province water shortages, especially for irrigation and water supply, were caused by poor planning and coordination. Nevertheless, it was found that several existing coordinating mechanisms could coordinate among the agencies concerned, such as the unit which provides training on tourism services or the committee for improvement in navigation. However, these mechanisms would need to be strengthened to overcome problems caused by the lack of water utilization regulations, especially detailed regulations for subsectors, and the lack of sufficient technical capacity.
The supporting roles of the Water Resources Coordination Committee were recognized in the following priority functions: basin planning, establishment of regulations for river basin management, and establishment of river basin organizations. It was recommended that the Water Resources Coordination Committee carry out the following priority activities: establishing models for river basin management, promoting capacity building and assisting in fund raising.
At the beginning of the working group discussions, the primary concern with respect to the management of river basins was to ensure sustainable development of their natural resources. Interaction with the other working groups revealed also the needs for poverty eradication and for economic development. The working group therefore recommended the following priority objectives for river basin management:
Given the rich potential for water resources development in many parts of the country, particularly the northern, central and southern regions, several candidate river basins could be selected for the pilot study. Among these river basins, the Nam Ngum river basin was adopted as the basis for discussion and the priority strategies recommended under this theme included the following:
It was suggested that the following issues should be accorded priority so as to ensure effective introduction of integrated water resources management:
The working group identified the three key agencies which would play central roles in successful river basin management: the Water Resources Coordination Committee, the Science, Technology and Environment Agency, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. The following priority actions were recommended to be undertaken by these agencies:
In order to monitor the improvement in water resources utilization effectiveness for the three priority objectives in the pilot river basin (Nam Ngum), the working group recommended the following indicators and targets:
In the above context, independent mechanisms for monitoring will be required and the following agencies were recommended to accept responsibility in this area. The Department of Meteorology and Hydrology was recommended to be responsible for monitoring of the flow conditions and to report to responsible agencies and the government. A River Basin Coordination and Management Committee was recommended to be established so as to monitor progress in reducing the number of conflicts in water utilization and in improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the people in the river basin and to report to the provinces and the government. The working group recommended the following priority activities to be undertaken by the key actors in this theme: detailed studies (including discussion and data collection), detailed and coordinated planning (participatory approach) and implementation (including resources mobilization).
The working group reviewed existing programmes related to integrated water resources management, especially those related to subsectors, such as national Water Resources Development Programmes on Hydropower, Irrigation and Water Supply as well as those initiated by the Mekong River Commission. The working group therefore recommended possible improvement measures for coordination such as clear, related government policies, laws, regulations and decrees and the creation of effective River Basin Organizations. The important roles of the Water Resources Coordination Committee to coordinate with the ministries concerned and of the Lao National Mekong Committee to develop policy, laws, regulations including establishment of River Basin Organizations were recognized. The working group recommended the following priority activities of the Water Resources Coordination Committee to support progress in river basin management at the national level: capacity strengthening, plans of action, financial resources mobilization.
The working group focused its discussions not only on the detailed activities of turning the national water vision into reality, but also and mainly on the framework to create the right conditions for all key stakeholders of the water resources sector to play appropriate roles in the realization of the national water vision. For this purpose, the working group recommended the following three priority objectives:
It was interesting to note that all participants from the line agencies expected the Water Resources Coordination Committee Secretariat to play the key role in the realization of the national water vision. The participants also recognized the importance of such a principal role in the implementation of fundamental and cross-cutting activities, such as training and capacity building, enhancement of public awareness and public participation. These fundamental activities are necessary in view of the following priority issues identified by the working group:
In order to help monitor the implementation of coordinated activities towards achieving the priority objectives, the working group identified the following indicators and targets:
For proper monitoring and reporting, the working group suggested the use of the existing mechanisms as follows:
In support of the above programme, the working group recommended the following priority activities to be undertaken by the Water Resources Coordination Committee:
Among the priority activities, it was recommended that attention be paid to help increase financial resources with the contribution from government, donors and all people, and to help adequate allocation to all subsectors.
In reviewing existing key programmes related to the above-mentioned priority objectives, the working group identified the following obstacles in the implementation of the programmes:
The working group discussed intensively the role of the Water Resources Coordination Committee in the creation of an effective framework for the realization of the national water vision and recommended that it should:
Similarly, the working group also identified priority activities of the Water Resources Coordination Committee and water subsectors as follows:
The working group also recommended the following activities to be undertaken by all water-related agencies and stakeholders:
During the past three years, important progress in the improvement
of water resources management
in the Lao PDR has been made, especially following the establishment of the Water Resources Coordination Committee. The most important achievements were related to the coordination of activities and the increase of interest and attention by the government and the donor community in the management of water resources. Among these achievements was the development of the national water vision and the related change in perception of key water resources stakeholders on the need for better coordination. These changes enabled the round-table workshop on turning the national water vision into action to introduce a more centralized approach to coordination in the realization of the national water vision. As can be seen from the discussion of the four working groups in Section 5, all participants recognized the importance of the coordinating role of the Water Resources Coordination Council in the promotion of integrated water resources management at the national and river basin levels. This change in perception made it possible to introduce a two-pronged approach in the realization of the national water vision:
Le Huu Ti and Thierry Facon. 2001. From Vision to Action: A Synthesis of Experiences in Southeast Asia. The FAO-ESCAP Pilot Project on National Water Visions. RAP Publication 2001/06, Bangkok.