VIENTIANE, April 4, 2019 – Two World Bank projects, currently helping Lao PDR to build climate resilient infrastructure and respond to flood-affected areas of the country, will receive additional financing totaling USD$50 million. Financing will become available through a special Crisis Response Window allocation from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank Group’s fund for the world’s most in-need countries, approved March 11 by the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors.
"All parts of our country have suffered from the effects of last year’s heavy flooding, with loss of life, property, and livelihoods, as well as significant damages to public infrastructure,” said H.E. Dr. Bounchanh Sinthavong, Minister of Public Works and Transport. “The cost of disaster recovery and reconstruction is estimated at more than US$520 million. This additional financing from the World Bank will help us build back better and more resilient roads, waterways, and embankments.”
The 2018 rainy season was unusually heavy, affecting more than 616,000 people and causing 56 deaths. Tropical Storm Son-Tinh in July, and Bebinca in August, caused widespread flooding across the country. Southern Lao PDR was further hit by the collapse of the Xe-Pian Xe-Namnoy dam in July. The government-led Post-Disaster Needs Assessment estimated the damages and losses, recovery cost, and overall impact on the Lao PDR economy. Total needs for disaster recovery are estimated at US$520.4 million.
“The IDA Crisis Response Window is a special pool of funds reserved for countries facing significant disasters,” said Nicola Pontara, World Bank Country Manager for Lao PDR. “Damages and losses from last year’s floods far exceeded the cost of other recent disasters, including 2011 Tropical Storms Haima and Nok-Ten, and 2009 Cyclone Ketsana. This additional funding will help close the recovery financing gap and make Lao PDR’s infrastructure more resilient to future disasters.”
The Lao Road Sector II Project will receive $25 million of additional funds to support the repair of damaged roads, which will be implemented by the Department of Roads. Critical sections of National Road 13 will be rehabilitated, taking into account climate resilient improvements, and more effective maintenance through performance-based contracts. Improvements will aim to reduce the adverse effects of increasing impacts of climate change through improved road design, such as raising road alignment in areas prone to flooding, improving drainage systems, and applying bio-engineering solutions to protect road slope, inlets and outlets of culverts, and roads approaching bridges.
The Lao PDR Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Management Project will receive $25 million of additional funds to support the rehabilitation of embankments, implemented by the Department of Waterways. Priority river infrastructure will be upgraded to best practice technical standards for flood protection. Additional funds will also be used for integrated urban flood risk management, creating safe and attractive urban environments through improved flood protection and resilient urban planning. Opportunities to engage the private sector to finance climate-resilient infrastructure will be explored.
Immediately following the 2018 floods, the World Bank restructured the Lao Road Sector Project II to support emergency repairs of damaged road sections. The World Bank is also supporting Lao PDR’s participation in the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility, and is assisting the Ministry of Energy and Mines to convene partners to review the nation’s dam safety inspection.