The use of groundwater has been steadily rising globally and is playing an increasingly important role in supplementing domestic water supplies in rural areas. Groundwater has enormous value for use in the dry season as well as for supplementing wet season irrigation in many countries since groundwater systems tend to be much less vulnerable to climate variability than surface water supplies.

Irrigation is one of the key development strategies of the government of Lao PDR for attaining the Millennium Development Goals and boosting livelihoods and economic prosperity in rural areas. The area under irrigation still remains very low and is largely sourced from surface water. Groundwater development can potentially offer water on demand for crop and livestock diversification and intensification. Surprisingly, experience using groundwater for irrigation is limited but could offer a great deal of promise if the main technical and non-technical barriers can be overcome and the available resources are adequately understood and sustainably developed.

This research project, led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Southeast Asia office, on “Enhancing the resilience and productivity of rainfed dominated systems in Lao PDR through sustainable groundwater use” is funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The project commenced in July 2012 and runs until July 2016.

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