Hydroelectric power sustainable development in Laos needs to focus on environmental, social impacts

VIENTIANE, March 7 (Xinhua) — An official from International Finance Corporation (IFC) urged Lao government to better understand cumulative river and ecosystem-wide impacts, which was of vital importance to achieving sustainable hydropower projects.

Kate Lazarus, team leader for the Mekong Sustainable Hydropower Program at IFC told Xinhua that the government of Laos has identified hydropower as an important source of income while contributing to poverty reduction and graduation from least developed country status.

“Hydropower investments require lengthy and thorough study to determine project feasibility and impact. The environmental and social impacts from hydropower projects need to be understand and managed. Government policy needs to be continually updated,” Lazarus said.

“With abundant water resources, hydropower, if developed and managed well, hydropower can be shared regionally through wider connectivity of the grid, benefitting neighboring countries,” she added.

The Mekong-side country is expected to have more than 60 generation projects online by 2020 up from the current 38, bringing electrification to 98 percent of the country’s households up from the current 85 percent, according to the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines.

According to the Ministry’s Vision 2030 presented to January’s five-yearly 10th Congress of the ruling Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the country’s installed hydropower capacity by 2030 will be 17,000 megawatts (MW) of which 10,000 are expected to be exported, providing a significant economic and fiscal contribution in the highly import-dependent country.

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the ShanghaiDaily on and was retrieved on March 10, 2016 and posted at INDESEEM for information and educational purposes only. The views, comments and contents of the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.



Spotlight Shines on Laos as it Takes a Turn in the ASEAN Chair

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong at the Prime Minister's Office in Vientiane, Jan. 25, 2016. Photo Credit/Source: AFP

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong at the Prime Minister’s Office in Vientiane, Jan. 25, 2016.
Photo Credit/Source: AFP

Reported by RFA’s Lao Service. Translated by Ounkeo Sousksavanh. Written in English by Brooks Boliek.

As Laos kicks off its chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, activists fear that the human rights agenda in the country and the region will get swamped by economic concerns and regional discord over issues like the partition of the South China Sea.

“When geopolitical interests are crucial, I am afraid that human rights and democratic values are the very first things to appear in words alone, only to be left out and not truly followed,” Vanida Thepsouvanh, president of the Paris-based Lao Movement for Human Rights told RFA’s Lao Service.

Over the weekend ASEAN foreign ministers met in Vientiane for an agenda-setting retreat in the Lao capital. That meeting follows the organization’s first meeting in the United States which Laos co-chaired earlier in February. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also became only the third secretary of state to visit the country when he stopped for a day in January.

Human rights overshadowed

While the ASEAN chairmanship shines a spotlight on this landlocked, communist country of about 6.8 million people, activists fear that the attention fails to illuminate the need for human rights reforms in Laos and some of the other nine member countries.

On Saturday ASEAN issued a statement that was long on defining economic goals and expressions of concern over China’s moves to dominate the South China Sea, but was short on mentions of human rights.

“Laos does not need an ASEAN/US summit in Sunnyland [California], nor does it need to chair ASEAN to give basic human rights to the people in Laos,” Vanida said. “Each day is an opportunity to do it, and make it real. It is a matter of will. This political will is absent with the Lao system.”

Amnesty International campaigner for Cambodia, Laos, and Viet Nam Janice Beanland agreed.

Take the example of community development worker Sombath Somphone, she said. Sombath’s Dec. 15, 2012 abduction at a police checkpoint in Vientiane is widely believed to have been carried out by police or some other government-linked group, though authorities have consistently denied playing a role in his disappearance.

“The Lao authorities have steadfastly refused to investigate the enforced disappearance of Sombath Somphone and have even introduced new draconian measures to limit civil society,” Beanland said. “The diplomatic community must make much stronger attempts to encourage Laos to break with the past and its blatant disregard for fundamental freedoms of everyone.”

Laos is not alone in its disregard for civil rights as many ASEAN nations continue to ignore the need to address civil rights issues, she said.

“ASEAN as an organization is failing to respond to the clamor from citizens in the region to address human rights issues,” she said. “It is difficult to see any signs that the human rights situation is going to improve in the near future. Severe restrictions on expression, association and peaceful assembly continue to make it a blind-spot for human rights in Southeast Asia.”

U.S. influence

The Obama administration began its “pivot to Asia” in 2011, and President Obama attended the meeting in Sunnyland, California. He is expected to attend the ASEAN  summit in September.

U.S.attention in Southeast Asia should bring a bigger emphasis on human rights, but Washington appears to be more interested in using its influence to counteract China than protecting human rights, Beanland explained.

“The U.S. can be a particularly influential force, but seems more preoccupied with security and pushing back against the influence of China,” she said.

Not everyone in the civil society community is as pessimistic about human rights changes. The spotlight that shines on the ASEAN chair and the need to open up the country to Western investment will turn the tide, a Lao expert on community development told RFA.

“This will be the first time for Laos to express itself to the world,” said the expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This will have a positive impact in the long term even though there is no clear sign of support for human rights now in Laos.”

Article Disclaimer: This article was published by the Radio Free Asia (RFA) on March 2, 2016 and was retrieved on March 4, 2016 and posted at INDESEEM for educational and information purposes only. The contents, views and opinions expressed in the article remains those of the author. Please cite the original source accordingly.


Enhancing Productivity and Livelihoods among Smallholder Irrigators through Biochar and Fertilizer Amendments at Ekxang Village, Vientiane Province, Lao PDR






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Title Enhancing Productivity and Livelihoods among Smallholder Irrigators through Biochar and Fertilizer Amendments at Ekxang Village, Vientiane Province, Lao PDR
Publication Type Conference Paper
Year of Publication 2015
Authors Macedo, J.Souvanhnachit M.Rattanavong S.Maokhamphiou B.Sotoukee T.Pavelic P.Sarkis M., and Downs T.
Conference Name Climate-Smart Agriculture Conference
Abstract Climate change and climate variability pose significant risks to smallholders in the rainfed lowlands of Lao PDR. Increased surface temperatures, declining rainfall, persistent drought and depleting soil nutrients all serve to impact agricultural productivity and livelihoods. This study investigates the impact of five treatments on soil nutrients, moisture, plant growth, and yield of water spinach (Ipomoea aquatica). The treatments tested were rice husk biochar only, biochar inoculated with manure, manure tea, inorganic fertilizer and the control. The costs and benefits of the treatments were also assessed. The randomized complete block design was used to assign five treatments and eight replications to the experimental units. Biochar was produced through slow pyrolysis. Soil physical properties were assessed with the visual soil assessment method and 15-randomized soil samples were collected for chemical analyses. Sprinklers were used for irrigation and a weather station installed to monitor the climate. Descriptive statistics and analysis of variance were used to analyze the data. Costs-benefits evaluation of the treatments was conducted to determine the net benefits relative to the initial costs ratio. The analysis of variance of mean yield indicates that the difference in yield among the treatments was highly significant. The computed F value (8.08) was higher than the tabular F value (4.07) at the 1% level of significance. The calculated coefficient of variance of mean yield was 17.33%. The net benefits to initial costs ratio of treatments suggest that the control (5.84), biochar inoculated with manure plus NPK (0.93), and biochar plus manure (0.87) are most preferred. The net benefits and initial costs evaluation of treatments is important to assess whether utilizing these treatments would impact smallholders’ livelihoods. The results of this study contribute to the evidence that biochar could play an essential role to mitigate climate change risks by enhancing soil quality and increase agricultural productivity.
URL www.researchgate.net/profile/Jenkins_Macedo/publication/268076126_Enhancing_Productivity_and_Livelihoods_among_Smallholder_Irrigators_through_Biochar_and_Fertilizer_Amendments_at_Ekxang_Village_Vientiane_Province_Lao_PDR/links/5460dd2a0cf2c1a63bff749b.pdf

“Land Reforms, Sustainable Agriculture and Water Resources in the Presence of Climate Change: A Critical Analysis for Policymakers and Development Practitioners in Lao PDR.”

A Supplementary Research Paper.

Brief Note

Over the past several decades, the Government of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) has instituted several policy reforms in hope of attracting investors and development organizations with the aim of working with national partners and other stakeholders to address the effects of climate change and the sustainable use of land, water and agricultural resources for sustainable development. Lao PDR stands at the hub of natural resources along with its competitive neighbors within the region, namely: China, Viet Nam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar. The development and implementation of policies geared towards the sustainable use of agricultural resources, lands and water driven by sound research is the hallmark for transitioning from a Least Developed Country (LCD) to a prospective developing country, a state that the current government of Lao PDR seeks to overcome with several policy reforms. This paper seeks to provide a critical analysis of the current state of policy reforms in land, water and agricultural resources in Lao PDR with the aim of providing quality information to policymakers and development practitioners that are involved in natural resources management and how to address the negative environmental impacts of climate change. The paper builds on extensive secondary research, which include published academic papers, government policies as well as technical reports, gray literature and project documents released by development organizations and research institutions. The overall goal of this paper is to critically outline and provide constructive recommendations of what have been formulated in terms of policy reforms, their social and environmental implications, if any, successes, failures and how these policies drive the fight against climate change in Lao PDR to protect and conserve agricultural resources, land, and water for sustainable development.

Light Fried Morning Glory

IMG_20140422_153851 copy

Light fried morning glory is a typical dish throughout Southeast Asia. The dish is commonly eaten with steam rice or sticky rice, papaya salad, potatoes, yam, etc. Depending on your preference, it can be cooked with fresh green or red peppers, green onions or onions, herbs and or carrots. For dinner tonight, I made some fresh organically grown morning glory from our site at Ekxang village in the Vientiane Province.Here are few photos, ingredients and simple steps to prepare the dish.

1-2kg fresh sliced morning glory
3 fresh Green onions
3 pieces of garlic
2 fresh tomatoes
4-6 fresh peppers
Fresh Basel
Two pinches of table salt
1/2 teaspoon of curry Powder
Vegetable oil

Steps: cook time is about 10 minutes

1. Make sure to wash and slice the morning glory into thin pieces about 1-2cm or larger depending on your preference.

Washed and sliced morning glory.

2. Slice the vegetables that will be used with morning glory to make the dish.


Sliced vegetables

3. Pull some vegetable oil in a frying pan as appropriate and turn on the stove to low heat.

4. When the oil is hot, put in the slices of onions and garlic. Let it fry for 1-2 minutes on low heat.


5. Put in the slices of tomatoes and allow to fry for another 3-4 minutes.


6. Add the sliced morning glory and add seasoning to enhance the taste and allow to fry for the rest of the 10 minutes. Don’t over cooked it.

7. Once the entire 10 minutes of cook period is done, remove and serve with steam or sticky rice, sweet potatoes, yam, etc. It should look something like this.

Light Fried Morning Glory


Today at the field as we prepare to harvest next week.

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