In most of Northern Provinces in Laos, access to water – for domestic use or agriculture – is still limited. In the mountainous areas in the North, AFD supports a project which aims at improving livelihoods through building clean water supply schemes and irrigation schemes. The initiative has been publicly recognized by the Government.
A flattering official visit
In Luang Prabang province, North of Laos, 7 villages have now access to water for agriculture all year round thanks to the irrigation schemes built in the framework of the Northern Upland Development project. This is a fundamental step forward for these villages living from agriculture.
It is in this province that Dr Phuang Parisak Pravongviengkham, Vice Minister of Agriculture from the Lao Governement, came to visit the schemes on May 27.
He took this opportunity to gather chiefs of villages, authorities from province and district level and to convey key messages. According to Dr. Parisak, this is one of the flagship initiative on the implementation of ‘Samsang’ decentralizing policy and it shows good achievements in the practice on capacity development.
He also insisted on the demonstration of the participation of people jointly with government and the development partners.
Irrigation in mountainous zones
By August 2017, the project, through its infrastructure component, will have supported 88 clean water supply schemes and 31 irrigation schemes.
These schemes changed the life of the inhabitants: around 50,000 person benefits directly from the improvement of the living conditions. Producers can have access to water directly into their fields, and the time when women have to walk for 2 hours to get water for domestic usage is over!
In Mountainous areas, irrigation benefits both during the rainy season and the dry season. During the dry season, it enables the farmers to maintain and diversify the production; and to regulate the water during the rainy season. Moreover, irrigation schemes contribute to the reduction of slash and burn as it is a facility to diversify and increase the production on a defined area.
Strengthening capacities, key challenge
For the deputy governor of Luang Prabang Province, Mr. Bouakong Namnavong, the most important for the villages is to get organized:
– In group of producers : to allow them a better management of the production
– In water users groups to define management rules to protect the resource
The government insisted on the importance of building capacity of farmers and local authorities, both on technical aspects and on operation and maintenance. Economic benefits are ensured by the optimal use of the infrastructures and their sustainability.