ADB approved a $23.0 million grant from ADB’s Special Funds and a $0.5 million grant from the Gender and Development Cooperation Fund (GDCF), administered by ADB, on 2 February 2009 for the Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR). The preparation of this project benefitted from funding support from the Netherlands Trust Fund under the Water Financing Partnership Facility through the development of a plan for corporatizing provincial nam papas (or water utilities).

The project supported  the government of Lao PDR to develop  small district towns by improving piped water supplies, complementary drainage, and environmental sanitation in 13 priority small district towns in 10 provinces. The project implementation commenced in August 2010 and completed in 2018. The project has 5 outputs: (i) a strengthened urban water supply and sanitation sector, (ii) developed and rehabilitated water supply systems, (iii) improved drainage and public sanitation, (iv) enhanced community action and participation, (v) enhanced gender equity in urban water supply and sanitation, and (vi) improved capacity for project implementation and operation and maintenance (O&M). The Department of Water Supply under Ministry of Public Works and Transport is the executing agency of the project. The implementing agencies are the Departments of Public Works and Transport in each of the 10 target provinces.


A safe and convenient water supply is an essential building block for improving quality of life and overall economic development both in urban areas and rural areas. It plays especially an important role in releasing women and children from the daily drudgery and time required for fetching water and enabling them to become more educated and productive. This development improvement helps to shape and guide the design and implementation of the recently completed Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project, which accomplished new and rehabilitated water supply systems, drainage systems, and sanitation facilities in 13 small towns across 10 provinces in the country.

The project was designed and implemented in line with the government policy to develop small towns as manufacturing and service centers for the surrounding rural areas and the Asian Development Bank’ overarching development policies, guided by these policy frameworks there was a very clear focus on how the project would bring about benefits to women and children.

There has been significantly increase in construction activities and establishment of new businesses leading to greater economic opportunities. They also talk about how the urban environment has become cleaner and improvement in health and hygiene are observed across the communities.

In the small Khmu tribal village in May in the town of Viengphouka, Loungnamtha province, villagers described how poor it was previously and how the village lacks water. Each day women and children had to fetch water from the natural creek a long distance away from the village. This caused a great deal of hardship in their lives, especially during the rainy season.

After the implementation of the new water supply systems under the Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project, villagers report a big improvement in their lives. They report that each household has a water supply connection and women of the household can enjoy using clean water conveniently, allowing them more productive time to strengthen their family economy. These are just two of many similar stories can be heard across all 13 of the small towns that have benefited from the Small Towns Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project.