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February 25, 2014

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Since 2005, the Lao Environment and Social Project strengthened the management of environmental and social impact of the use of natural resources in Lao PDR. Three provinces adopted an Environment Strategy and tested community grievance mechanisms. The Faculty of Science designed and dispensed a new curriculum for resettlement to 535 students. The improved Standard Environment and Social Obligation can mitigate the impact of new hydropower and mining concessions. Finally, 12 communities created Conservation Networks fostering sustainable management of biodiversity and livelihoods near protected areas.

Challenge

Lao PDR possesses significant natural resource assets, but the forest cover has been decreasing due to threats stemming from logging, agriculture expansion, hydro-electricity projects, and mining.The depletion of natural resources, especially forest and biodiversity, was one of the country’s main challenges at the time of project appraisal. Rapid hydropower and mining development also posed environmental and social challenges, especially the relocation of ethnic groups. National policy focusing on economic growth and poverty reduction also potentially led to adverse environmental and social impacts. The legal and policy framework for social and environmental management were not strongly implemented.

Solution

In 2005, the Environment Protection Fund (EPF) was established by the Government of Lao PDR with support from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank as an administratively and financially autonomous organization to finance environmental protection, sustainable natural resource management, biodiversity conservation, and community development in Lao PDR. The project has supported the EPF’s capacity building for sub-project marketing, development, implementation and monitoring.

This project helped strengthen capacity  for the formulation and implementation of environmental and social policy and practices, and  for biodiversity conservation and livelihood improvements in and around protected areas. The project has also improved local procedures and capacity for environmental planning and management through partnership arrangements involving communities, local governments, and civil society organizations in three central Lao provinces.

Results

Since the beginning of the project in 2005, important results include:

  • 100% of new hydropower and mining concessions include a Standard Environment and Social Obligation.

  • 535 Lao students already benefited from the new curricula on resettlement development by the Faculty of Social Science of the National University of Laos in collaboration with a university in China.

  • 131 people from central and provincial government agencies and private sector participated in social safeguard training programs.
  • 12 communities established a new conservation/livelihood model – the Community Conservation Network (CCN) – in the Nam Theun-Nam Kading basin.  CCN is a novel approach to promote conservation activities and livelihood options for local people by building ownership, commitment and capacity of provincial authorities and local communities.

  • 6 Provincial Protected Areas, totaling 169,000 hectares, have developed a management plan and partially implemented it.

  • 3 provinces have designed and adopted Provincial Environment Strategy and Action Plan (PESAP), two of which have tested project tracking databases and community grievance mechanisms.

  • 152 subgrants physically and financially completed, benefitting over 16,700 people including 6,050 women in more than 200 communities.

  • 99 people have been trained to participate in village grievance committees and use the national guideline for ethnic groups’ consultation developed by the project

  • One river basin committee, the Nam Theun Nam Kading RBC, was established and its strategy designed and adopted.


" Since our village joined the Community Conservation Network in June 2010, people in the village are more aware of the importance of natural resources and biodiversity. Slash and burn farming is nearly no longer practiced. The consumption of wildlife is also significantly decreased as people are now informed of the impact wildlife has on the environment. "

Mr. Outhoumxay

Head of Naphong Village

Bank Group Contribution

The project was implemented with a grant from IDA in the amount of US$ 7 million. The original project cost was US$ 4 million in 2005, followed by an additional financing grant of US$ 3 million in 2009.

Partners

The Environment Protection Fund (EPF) was the implementation agency of the project.  Sub-grants reached many beneficiaries within the national departments in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the National University of Laos, provincial government agencies, etc.  Partners involved in the collaboration with some of the sub-projects beneficiaries included Australian Agendy for International Development (AusAID), International Finance Corporation (IFC), Finland, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Moving Forward

The Lao Environment and Social Project was successfully completed in June 2013. To sustain the benefits of the project’s investment, a follow-up Second Lao Environment and Social (LENS 2) project is currently under preparation. LENS 2 will build on experiences of and lessons learned from LENS, promoting planned subgrants and further strengthening EPF’s capacity.

Beneficiaries

“Since our village joined the Community Conservation Network in June 2010, people in the village are more aware of the importance of natural resources and biodiversity. Slash and burn farming is nearly no longer practiced. The consumption of wildlife is also significantly decreased as people are now informed of the impact wildlife has on the environment.” said Mr. Outhoumxay, Head of Naphong Village. Naphong village is located in Nam Kading Protected Area in Borikhamsay Province. 

The village received revolving fund of LAK 55 million (approximately US$ 6,900) for participating in the Community Conservation Network (subgrant), and the revolving fund was invested in raising 120 goats. The community manages their own conservation activities, including monthly patrolling along the Nam Kading National Protected Area.

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169,000 hectares
of total area brought under enhanced biodiversity conservation
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