Planning for change and sustainability in water development in Lao PDR and the Mekong River basin

Jacobs, J.W. (1996) Planning for change and sustainability in water development in Lao PDR and the Mekong River basin. Natural Resources Forum, 20 (3). pp. 175-187.

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With its recent opening to the global market economy, the natural resources of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR, referred to in this paper as Laos) – especially its water resources–have attracted external interest and investment. The overall level of water development is low. While even modest development would help Laos meet some of its urgent needs, past experience in Southeast Asia and other tropical regions suggests that fast-paced water development may damage the natural resource base. This article examines some efforts in water development from Southeast Asia and other regions and their relevance to water policy formulation in Laos. Future social and environmental changes in Laos are inevitable, but the nature and direction of these changes are uncertain. It thus makes sense to design policies that are flexible and can be adjusted to, and even take advantage of, a changing social and environmental context. Smaller-scale, deliberately-paced projects which merge local knowledge and external expertise fulfil the requirements of flexibility and adjustability, and are also appropriate for other important reasons: they do not require massive inputs of funding, and they do not initiate large-scale environmental and socio-economic changes. Current knowledge of the complex ecological and social systems in Laos is only sketchy. A slower-paced development will allow developers the necessary time to learn more about these important aspects.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Global market economy, Transportation, Communication, Mekong River, water resources
Author Affiliation: Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, Texas A & M University, College Station, TX 77843-3147, USA
Subjects: Social Sciences
Divisions: General
Depositing User: Ms Ishrath Durafsha
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2014 06:15
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2014 06:15
Official URL:

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