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Laos facing increasing drought impacts

Apr 29. 2016
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CLIMATE CHANGE is expected to bring increasingly severe drought conditions to Laos, with agricultural yields possibly falling by 10 per cent by 2020 and 30 per cent by the year 2050.
To reduce the damage caused by drought, the Laotian government is working with government agencies and non-governmental organisations to respond to and prevent problems.
Government agency officials and NGO representatives who work with drought policy and planning issues in Laos gathered in Vientiane this week for discussions. The two-day national workshop on drought risk, disaster risk reduction, and agricultural management, which ended Friday, was aimed at educating officials on these vital issues.
Topics were to include the definition of drought, drought impacts on agriculture, drought monitoring and early warning systems, integration of drought management in policy and development plans, and lessons learned from drought risk management actions in neighbouring countries.
The meeting was also to allow participants to discuss the key elements of integrated drought risk management. These key elements included concepts, policies, roles, tools, rural agricultural communities, identifying key gaps to be addressed, and related action points.
There are almost 200,000 Laotian households at risk of food insecurity due to drought. Areas at risk include Xayaboury, Vientiane, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, and Champassak provinces, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation and CARE International.
The most severe drought impacts are always experienced by Laos’ most vulnerable populations, who depend on agricultural production for their livelihoods and food security.
Drought risk management aims to reduce the damage. The goals of such management include lessening exposure to drought, lowering sensitivity to drought, and increasing resilience to support drought recovery.
Integrated drought risk management involves practical actions and progressive solutions.
Small steps at the local level help to diversify actions and lower exposure to drought. Targeted projects at the district and provincial levels provide technical solutions and training to implement low-water agricultural activities that increase resilience to drought.
National programmes can ensure that areas in need of drought risk reduction receive the support they need.
Integrated efforts will decrease vulnerability to drought and build a more resilient agricultural system. 
Addressing the challenges of climate change on local agriculture requires technical expertise, regional awareness, and local knowledge to adapt to challenges. 
The workshop was hosted by the Department of Planning and Cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.
CARE International in Laos and the Food and Agricultural Organisation provided technical support.

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