Supporting community-based vulnerability assessments and action planning in Lao PDR.

Woman watering crops along the bank of Mekong RiverFrom Schuler

The goal of the project in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is to enhance the government’s capacity and formulate  guidelines for developing community-based vulnerability assessments and action planning.

This project aims to improve decentralized resources management, reduce discrimination and marginalization of households in remote areas and minimize the considerable gender inequalities that exist.

Engaging communities at the local level will lead to a better understanding of vulnerability and climate change implications, such as floods and droughts.

Global monitoring shows that rural populations persistently have less access to water and sanitation than urban populations. In Lao PDR, this difference is enhanced by a geographical component: while one-third of the population in upland areas is still below the poverty line, in lowland areas the number drops to one-fifth. This may be linked to food insecurity and lack of access to infrastructure and services.

Lao PDR is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world as it is heavily reliant on climate-sensitive natural resources and has low adaptive capacity. The country has been increasingly affected by natural hazards that cause severe damage to infrastructure and livelihoods.

The country is making progress towards achieving an effective land use planning, so understanding climate change impacts and the way they affect water resources are essential for its success in the long term. There is an urgent need for actions that strengthen community participation and vertical integration for improving resources management decentralization and reducing capacity constraints.

The proposed activities seek to provide guidance on the most suitable climate change resilient strategies to improve water resources management through local and regional components.

Guidelines for improving water resources management will be developed in order to help the authorities achieve their goals, focusing on community needs. These guidelines aim at understanding the enabling environment (laws and policies, water user dialogues and finance opportunities) and the basic procedures for engaging water users (including the poor), linking water demand, water supply and water resources management, and highlighting the relevance of climate change impacts.

In addition, the regional component is focused on improving water governance through water accounting. The intervention will build on UN-Habitat’s Water Governance Programmes implemented in partnership with UNDP and SIWI in Lao PDR and WATSAN Programmes (Mekong Region Water and Sanitation Initiative and Water for Asian Cities). Synergy with small-scale water projects funded by other donors will be enhanced. Methodologies used for data collection in these projects will be replicated, if suitable.

The GoAL WaSH programme has been active in Lao PDR since 2011, helping achieve significant outputs such as the Water Supply & Sanitation Sector Strategy for Emerging Towns and the Lao National Water Treatment Plant Database. To ensure sustainability, standard operational procedures based on ISO standards on social responsibility (ISO 26000) and quality management systems (ISO 9000) were developed.


Guidelines on Water Resources Management and community-based vulnerability assessment have been developed. The Guidelines offer step-by-step guidance on the most suitable climate change-resilient strategies to improve water resources management in communities. Training materials have also been developed to support the implementation of the Guidelines at national and sub-national levels, targeting government officials.