CDIA Identifies Opportunities for Wetlands Management in Luang Prabang

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To make rapidly growing and evolving cities in the Lao PDR more “liveable”, CDIA is helping local authorities in Luang Prabang, Kaysone Phomvihane (Savannakhet) and Pakse identify ways of transforming infrastructure and services in ways that can have immediate beneficial effects.

Working with various partners, CDIA has found opportunities to help city authorities improve solid waste and wastewater management, and to enhance urban layout and long-term development. Plans for carrying out the improvements are detailed in a $123 million investment package for the three cities.

The study could prove immediately effective in Luang Prabang, Lao PDR’s former royal capital and premiere tourist attraction, where the plans are now with the Departments of Waterways, and Housing and Urban Planning of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MPWT). The former department is currently working on flood-risk management under the regional Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Management Project financed by the World Bank. CDIA’s proposed measures would complement this project, which will build riverbank protection along the Nam Khan, one of two rivers that define the historic peninsular at the centre of Luang Prabang, and install water gates and pumps along the other river, the Mekong.

“As well as providing a blueprint for resilient development, this CDIA pre-feasibility study can serve as a supplementary technical resource for MPWT,” says Chee Anne Roño, the CDIA Urban Development Specialist who led the Lao PDR engagement. “To see synergies between the CDIA findings and the ministry’s plans in Luang Prabang is a very welcome outcome,” she adds.

Stormwater in Luang Prabang normally flows through streams, drain channels and wetlands. However, with the city attracting thousands of tourists annually, solid waste has begun accumulating in the drainage system, restricting its flow and contributing to flooding.

To help the authorities rectify current problems and inform the design of future investments, CDIA has developed a Technical Guidance Report, which provides environmental baseline information and proposals for water resources management in Luang Prabang. The study proposes a detailed feasibility study for wastewater management that would develop a physical inventory and profiling of resources, identify their cultural heritage significance, and assess the environmental and social and potential health and safety impacts of various improvements. To mitigate urban flooding, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems that help Luang Prabang become a ‘sponge city’ could be possible.

“This opportunity to work with the Lao authorities and the World Bank to further Luang Prabang’s urban development objectives has provided an avenue for another meaningful city engagement at CDIA,” says Chee. “We thank the Department of Waterways in the Ministry of Public Works and Transport for supporting the CDIA team in this supplementary technical assistance.”

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