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Water in the pipeline for Vientiane farmers as irrigation project progresses

Construction of the Southern Vientiane Irrigation Development Project is now about 25 percent complete and the contractor is aiming to have the irrigation scheme finished by late 2018.

The scheme holds out great potential for farmers in the districts of Hadxaifong, Pakngum, and Xaythany who are anticipating increasing the area of their farmland to 1,500 hectares, of which 4,000 hectares will be reclaimed as paddy fields.

An expert from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, DrKhamphachanhVongsana, last week led a team from the Department of Irrigation along with media personnel on a field trip to the project.

“As of today, construction of the Southern Vientiane Irrigation Development Project is about 25 percent complete,” DrKhamphachanh told reporters.

The irrigation project in Vientiane is costing US$6.7 million. Laos has received financial support from the Asian Development Bank comprising US$24 million in loans and US$12.5 million for implementation of the nationwide Flood and Drought Management and Mitigation Project.

The Southern Vientiane Irrigation Development Project includes the four irrigation projects at Sang Huabor, Dong Khua, Nalong, and Makhiew. Five pumping stations will be built along the Huaymakhiew channel, which flows from the That Luang marsh for about 20 kilometres to the Mekong River. The project also involves the upgrade of sluice gates, which it is planned will be remotely controlled instead of operated manually.

DrKhamphachanh, who is the National Project Coordinator for the Flood and Drought Management and Mitigation Project, said a water level of four metres would be maintained in the main channel in the dry season. This would be close to the level in the wet season, which was 30 to 40 centimetres higher.

The upgrade of irrigation systems to deliver much-needed water to farmland in southern Vientiane is part of the government's food security programme.

Project staff forecast that paddy production will increase to 20,000 tonnes and that about 10,000 households of 61,000 people will benefit.

“It will contribute to improving people's livelihoods, food security and trade,” DrKhamphachanh said. A 32.2km embankment-cum-road has been constructed by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport's Department of Waterways to protect farmland, communities, commercial property and urban areas from flooding. The area protected is estimated to be about 20,000 hectares. A resident of Nalong village in Hadxaifong district, MrKhantySanaphay, told Vientiane Times about the difficulties he and others had encountered in the past due to the shortage of water in the dry season, while their farmland was inundated in the rainy season.

“The residents of this village are pleased with this project. We have been waiting for something like this for a very long time, and at last it's on the way,” he said.

The city administration has also suggested that the Huaymakhiew waterway could be developed as a tourist attraction.

By Somxay Sengdara
(Latest Update September 25, 2017)

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