New Policy Brief: Groundwater for Irrigation in Lao PDR

The International Water Management Institute, in collaboration with partners from Lao PDR, Thailand and Japan have been working to assess the groundwater resources; identify existing groundwater use in agriculture; develop and test new community-managed groundwater irrigation schemes; and establish the potential for expanded use of groundwater. This, in turn, serves to provide recommendations for sustainable development, efficient management, equitable and gender-sensitive access as well as coordinated use with other demands on the resource such as domestic water supply. Lao PDR is presently not using groundwater extensively for irrigation. However, in certain areas where the resources are sufficiently abundant and renewable, there are clear opportunities for increasing and diversifying crop production, particularly during the long dry season months. This could, in turn, improve food security and the livelihoods of farmers, as well as build their resilience to climate variability.

This policy brief addresses the sustainable use of groundwater for irrigation in Lao PDR – at the request of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. It summarizes the key findings, outcomes and recommendations from the research project (http://gw-laos.iwmi.org/). The project was supported by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) and, more recently, is contributing to the Groundwater Solutions Initiative for Policy and Practice (GRIPP). Broader groundwater governance issues are not covered in this brief but will be the topic of an upcoming GRIPP publication.

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