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Improved Water Security in Khammouan Province, Lao PDR
15 February 2016

[KHAMMOUAN PROVINCE, LAO PDR] The USAID Mekong Adaptation and Resilience to Climate Change (USAID Mekong ARCC) project is working with the International Union for Conservation of Nature in central Lao PDR to implement community-led climate change adaptation strategies.

In rural Nakai District, where Mekong ARCC target villages of Ban Xong and Ban Donkeo are located, the biggest threat facing farmers is variable or lack of rain. The villages oscillate between two extremes with their roads inundated and inaccessible during the rainy season months of June to November, followed by limited to no water supply during the dry season months due to a significant lack of infrastructure and resources.

Gender-specific water duties in remote communities such as these are typical and in this site 76 percent of people responsible for fetching water are women. In addition, childrearing, household maintenance, cooking, and cleaning all fall on females, be it young girls, adults or the elderly. With few communal platforms, women often wait up to an hour a day for household water before the taps run dry. After that happens, they will walk several kilometers twice a day to reach other sources. Impacts from climate change are already exacerbating the situation. Dry seasons are lasting longer and temperatures are continuing to rise, making secure access to drinking water a critical issue.

At present USAID Mekong ARCC and local government officials are working with communities to improve water storage and distribution for the villages through small-scale construction. After conducting a water feasibility assessment, engineers identified potential means for increasing water supply in Donkeo and Xong villages.

The project is now implementing a rehabilitation activity in Ban Xong—upgrading the existing pipeline (that was originally salvaged during the Vietnam War era), constructing a break pressure and storage tanks to help improve water storage and water pressure, adding distribution lines and constructing a communal platform.

In Ban Donkeo, which has no water system in place currently, the project is constructing a gravity-fed system including a communal tap and distribution points. Improved water security during the dry season will make water collection a simpler and quicker task, saving women valuable hours each day to tend to their many other responsibilities in the village.