Khammouane, Lao PDR– Representatives from the U.S. Government and development partners handed over restored and constructed water systems to the Lao government to increase access to water for over 1,300 men, women and children in three villages, particularly during the dry season.
This assistance, including storage tanks, improved piping and distribution points, were provided with support from the U.S. Agency for International Development Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change project (USAID Mekong ARCC). The new system has already improved water availability in the villages, and will increase the abilities of these remote communities to withstand the impact of climate change.
According to a 2013 USAID climate change study, Khammouane province will experience higher temperatures and rainfall by 2050, with significant impacts for communities in rural areas.
Extreme events, such as the drought currently being experienced across the Mekong region, are also expected to increase in frequency over time. Villages in rural areas of Khammouane province have already reported increasing difficulty in accessing water for household and livelihood use, which climate change impacts project to worsen.
As water collection duties are predominantly held by women in these rural areas, the new gravity-fed water systems allows them to collect water directly from nearby communal taps rather than walk several kilometers twice a day to reach water resources in the dry season.
The two-year effort to improve water security and raise awareness about climate change in these communities was funded by the USAID Mekong ARCC project and implemented with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with the Khammouane Provincial and Nakai District Offices of Natural Resource and Environment and the Department of Public Health. This project and IUCN handover of these community-led initiatives to the Lao Government marks an important step in continuing the country’s progress toward improving rural resilience to climate change impacts on livelihoods and health.