Groundwater is of vital importance for the livelihood and health of people since it is often the main source for domestic water. It is also widely used for irrigated agriculture and for industry. This is particularly true in dry regions where surface water is scarce or seasonal, and in rural areas with dispersed populations. Climate change is likely to lead to a greater dependence on groundwater as a cushion against drought and increasing uncertainty in surface water availability. Up to now, the extent of groundwater exploitation in the Lower Mekong region varies from limited to very extensive, and this is likely to increase in the short- to medium-term future.
Except in Thailand, groundwater management capacity in Lower Mekong countries is considered inadequate in almost every aspect. Despite growing competition in groundwater extraction among industry, agriculture, urban development and rural development sectors, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar still do not have institutional capacity at national and subnational levels to perform key management roles of groundwater assessment, monitoring, regulating, and borehole drilling. Individual technical capacity of staff working in this field is yet to be developed.
Lower Mekong Initiative (LMI) - Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership (SIP) implemented by Pact, in partnership with Lao National - World Bank Mekong Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) Program organized the first consultation between Lao PDR and Thailand in July 2018 to discuss needs and develop the Lao National Groundwater Capacity Building Program, through technical assistance support from Thailand’s Department of Groundwater Resources. The meeting agreed to start up the program with on-the-job training on existing well monitoring and inventory, groundwater mapping, and lectures in groundwater management principles. The program is buildiing long-term human resource capacity with NUOL. A field survey was organized in early April 2019 at the proposed pilot study area in Savannakhet Province in order to design an on-the-job training program, with the first training being delivered in July 2019.
Objectives of the Training
1. To provide an understanding of basic principles of groundwater management to Lao government officers through lectures, workshops, and hands-on experience in hydrogeological field work.
2. To build long-term human resource capacity with NUOL.
3. To promote bilateral technical collaboration on groundwater resources management between the Thai and Lao governments, facilitated by LMI – SIP
Target Groups of this Training
This training was primarily designed for Lao government officers who are responsible for groundwater resource conservation, management, monitoring, and inventories in both central government and local authorities. A secondary target group is Lao academia who are responsible for formulating a practical academic curriculum in groundwater management.
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