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Water management in Vientiane

The Mekong River Commission

Vientiane’s rapid growth poses a very practical problem. The public authorities must cope with a rising demand for water from the city’s population, while still maintaining, and indeed improving, productivity.

The Mekong, also called the “Mother of rivers”, is of particular importance to Laos and the other countries through which it flows. AFD has taken over responsibility for French cooperation, which has supported the Mekong River commission since its establishment through the 1995 Mekong Agreement. The Mekong Hycos project has funded a uniform hydrometrical observation network to collect water level and rainfall data along the river. These observing stations are then operated by each national service. They share their information with the Mekong River Commission and in exchange receive technical and other support which allows them to make better use of the information gathered.

Support for Vientiane’s water management system has facilitated the upgrading of both the technical and financial skills of its staff, through a special training centre for those working in the water sector. It has also involved improving the city’s water distribution network, by renovating pipes and the supply network to harmonise water pressure and reduce leaks. In addition, AFD has supported the authority at both financial and institutional levels to become a more efficient, autonomous and modern public company.

The same information can be used to conduct objective studies on how any given development may impact the river. They may also be used to estimate dimensions for hydraulic works and to predict flooding and low-water levels. In short they help to manage the water resource provided by the river.

The supply of safe drinking water is an essential service in any modern urban environment.

The “Nam Papa Nakhone Luang” should soon be eligible for subsidised loans without requiring a Lao government guarantee. This will allow it to continue to develop while responding to the challenges posed by the growth and modernisation of the capital, Vientiane.

Hydro-electric power station at Nam Theun II Dam © AFD, Thierry Duplan

Installation of drinking water supply © Nam Papa Nakhone Luang

Site of the Nam Theun II Dam, 2007 © NTPC, Bruno Gondouin

AFD's involvement in Laos  

AFD was mandated to begin work in Laos in 1993 and opened its local office in 1994.