Groundwater in Practice in Laos

A one day study tour and training was organized by members of the IWMI South East Asia regional office on November 2, 2015. The visit was to Nam Panai watershed in Vientiane Province. The watershed is one of the focal sites for Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) and WLE supported project “Enhancing the resilience and productivity of rainfed dominated systems in Lao PDR through sustainable groundwater use”. The field trip was the final component of a 2 week National Groundwater Training Program organized by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) supported National Integrated Water Resources Management Support Project (NIWRMSP). The event was led by IWMI and jointly organised with the National Resources and Environment Institute (NREI) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

In total, 45 participants took part in the tour/training. This included undergraduates from various faculties/departments of the National University of Laos and practicing professionals from related Government Institutions of Lao PDR participated.  The participants had exposure to a range of hydrogeology and related issues including:

  • the hydrogeological conditions in the area
  • drilling and testing tube wells for irrigation
  • monitoring of aquifer properties, groundwater levels and water quality
  • exposure to community managed tube well irrigation pilot and privately managed dug well irrigation for cash cropping
  • household level groundwater use assessments
  • community management of groundwater


The undergraduates who participated gave positive feedback about the learning experience. Dr Saykham Sithavong, Acting Deputy Head of the Faculty of Water Resources, reaffirmed that it was an invaluable day of learning for his students to better understand practical aspects in contrast to just the theoretical learning from the class.


Paul Pavelic from IWMI, highlighted that this field tour will enable students and practitioners to decide if they would like to pursue a career in the field of hydrogeology and groundwater management in future. Oulaphone Ongkeo from MONRE - NREI, reported that MONRE is preparing the National Groundwater Action Plan. The details of the Plan includes field surveys, collecting data, data analysis and other activities.



Posted by IWMI Friday, November 13, 2015 11:14:00 AM


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