Transport Sector in the Lao People's Democratic Republic

Evaluation Document | 31 October 2010
This sector assistance program evaluation assesses the performance of ADB assistance to the Lao PDR transport sector and makes recommendations for improving current and future operations.

The landlocked Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) depends heavily on road transport for economic development. ADB has made a substantial contribution to building the country's transport infrastructure, with loan assistance totaling $406 million between 1983 and 2009.

This study examines the effectiveness of ADB-funded transport projects and programs in the country in achieving its development objectives. As of December 2009, the end of the study's 10-year review period, ADB approved 14 loans totaling $363 million and technical assistance projects totaling $16 million. The overall rating of ADB's transport sector assistance to the country is successful.

The public road network is divided into (i) national roads or highways that connect the capital city to provincial towns, economic centers, and international borders; (ii) provincial roads linking provincial capitals and special economic zones to district centers; (iii) district roads linking district economic centers to villages; (iv) urban roads, which are internal to towns and cities; (v) rural roads linking villages and utilities; and (vi) special roads that serve specific purposes such as tourism, environmental conservation, and water source protection.

The study says that among the lessons drawn from its review of ADB interventions is that higher development effectiveness could be achieved by scaling up the assistance for provincial and rural roads, and that geographically focused projects enable better project management and development effectiveness. In addition, ADB can apply knowledge gained from transport sector interventions in other countries to the Lao PDR.

The study recommends that ADB support the government in the development of integrated capacity-building programs (instead of one-off technical assistance) in specific areas. It says the performance of ADB transport projects in the country could be improved by mainstreaming project-readiness filters to assess the institutional preparedness within the government for implementing a new project. It recommends that ADB work with the government to improve development agency coordination in the areas of knowledge sharing and monitoring.