Project Puts Clean Water on Tap for Towns across Lao PDR

ADB's $35 million loan will develop new water supply systems, improve non-revenue water management, and enhance community-level sanitation and septage maintenance.

VIENTIANE, LAO PEOPLE’S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC – An Asian Development Bank (ADB) loan to the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) will deliver clean water and better sanitation to residents of 11 small towns in the country.

“Three out of 10 people in Lao PDR don’t have access to clean water, and diarrhea remains the third leading killer of young children,” said Anupma Jain, Senior Social Sector Specialist in ADB’s Southeast Asia Department. “This project will provide 160,000 people – more than 2% of all people in the country – with clean water, improved sanitation, and better health.”

The $46.5 million project will develop and rehabilitate water supply systems, and enhance community action in environmental improvements, sanitation and septage maintenance.

Under the project, households will receive free water connections when they install a toilet in their home. Linking the provision of water and sanitation is essential for sustainable health impact, and this incentive system has worked well in other parts of Lao PDR. Sanitation grants will be provided to poor households to ensure they can fully benefit from the project.

The project will also strengthen the capacity of provincial water utilities in corporate planning and operations, nonrevenue water management and water safety plans. It builds on the success of three previous ADB-supported projects enhancing water and sanitation systems in 31 small towns across Lao PDR, with 12 more systems due for completion by 2015.

The project includes support for better hygiene awareness and behavior change, and recognizes women’s contribution to water utility operations and community development by providing equal opportunities for both qualified women and men.

ADB is providing $35 million towards the project. Phu Bia Mining Ltd will contribute a $6 million grant, which will be administered by ADB. It is ADB’s first sovereign project with private sector grant financing. The Government and local communities will provide the remaining funds, totaling about $5.5 million. 

The project contributes to the Government’s target of 90% piped water supply and 100% sanitation coverage in urban areas by 2030. Recent studies have shown that economic costs from poor sanitation are equivalent to more than 5% of Lao PDR’s gross domestic product.