Background: Groundwater is of vital importance for the livelihood and health of the 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, indeed, groundwater exploitation in the Lower Mekong region remains varies from limited to very extensive and it is likely to change fast in the short and middle future terms.
Despite the growing competition in groundwater extraction among industry, agricultural, urbanization and rural development sectors, some countries as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar still do not have an institutional capacity at central and decentralized levels to perform the key management roles, i.e. groundwater assessment, monitoring, and regulating, and borehole drilling. Not to mention the development of individual technical capacity in this field.
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 understand the demands, and will organize the first consultation meeting between Laos and Thailand to discuss the needs and necessary details on the development of Lao National Groundwater Capacity Building Program through technical assistance support from Thailand Department of Groundwater Resources and potentially from USG agencies. This meeting will also be served as a pilot activity for LMI-SIP in strengthening a trilateral technical assistance in groundwater management between Thailand, a Lower Mekong country and the United States through LMI-SIP.
Objectives and expected outputs
1. To organize and help facilitate the first official consultation meeting between Lao and Thailand representatives for the development of Lao National Groundwater Capacity Building Program.
2. To identify capacity needs in groundwater capacity management for Laos and potential technical assistance support from Thailand and USG agencies.
3. To set an indicative action plan for the development of Lao National Groundwater Capacity Building Program, in cooperation with Laos and Thailand, Lao National-World Bank Mekong IWRM Program, and LMI-SIP.
4. To pilot and explore an opportunity for Thailand to extend their technical assistance in groundwater management to the other Lower Mekong countries.
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