Improving the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector in Lao PDR to Climate Change Impacts


The land-locked country of Lao PDR is highly exposed and vulnerable to flooding and drought. These impacts are being induced by observable changes in the climate including higher than usual intensity rainfall events during the raining season and extended dry seasons. The related risks include sudden flash-floods, landslides and large-scale land-erosion on slopes and - recently - typhoons in the south. These events can be very destructive not only altering the landscape, fauna and vegetation, but also destroying public infrastructure, property, productive land, agricultural assets and harvests. The people of Lao PDR are particularly vulnerable to climate change because 80% of livelihoods are associated with some form of agricultural activity. Furthermore poor farmers have a limited asset base and lack access to support provided by the state. 

In order to promote resilience in the agricultural sector and enable informed decision-making, the existing knowledge base on climate change and impacts in Lao PDR were strengthened, specifically as it relates to agricultural production, food security and vulnerability. The capacities of sectoral planners at national, provincial, district kumban levels were strengthened to understand and address climate change related risks to local food production. Community-based adaptive agricultural practices and off-farm income generating opportunities were demonstrated to farmers and communities in 3 provinces and 5 districts. Adaptation monitoring and learning as a long-term process will assure that lessons learnt do benefit the local population, as well as national policies and international Climate Change adaptation efforts. 

What did this project (2011 - 2015) accomplish?

  • Climate change information generated, collected and uploaded into the website for public access. More than 180,000 click into the website observed in October 2013.
  • 26 training activities on basic climate change adaptation knowledge, GIS, gender and climate change adaptation, etc. held in Vientiane Capital, Xayaboury and Savannakhet provinces allowing 803 (307 female) participants from government agencies, students  and farmers to be able to expose to and improve significantly their knowledge and understanding of climate change issues.
  • Developed planning tools for forecasting and development of climate change scenarios on district and watershed level (several GIS layers, water balance assessment). Developed 2 land use maps with climate change characters for Paklay and Outoumphone districts.
  • Integrated climate change criteria into formal village land use planning by DPLD/MONRE.
  • Developed 4 Climate Change Training and Agriculture Adaptation Modules (on climate resilient cropping, livestock management, fisheries and vegetable practices) and implemented trials at pilot sites.
  • 637 household (10%) of the project target farmers reached directly technical support service from government extension officers during piloting of 29 adaptive agricultural practices such as frog raising, duck raising, native chicken raising, pig raising, onion growing etc.
  • Supported communities in drought prone areas with126 large jars (1,000 -1,600 liters/unit), 288 well tube rings (1000 liters/unit), and 7 steel tanks (3,000 liters/unit) for rain water harvesting.  Constructed 15 small scale reservoirs with capacity ranking from 80-7,500 cubic meters (Xayaboury province) and 4 fish ponds with capacity from 1,350-4,500 cubic meters  (Savannakhet province).
  • Flood/drought tolerant rice varieties (TDK1, TDK 1/1, TDK 8 and TDK 11) piloted in an area of about 110 hectares in 4 target districts. The average yield reached 3,6 tons per hectare (about one ton higher than local seed used before the project.
  • Climate Change knowledge is increasingly understood as a long-term challenge to the country in terms of potential impacts on infrastructure, agriculture, the economy and livelihoods.
  • Produced and disseminated 2 climate change videos and numerous posters, booklets, brochures, and T-shirts.          

Source: UNDP Lao Project Document (September 30, 2010).

Project details

Laos is inherently vulnerable to climate and other natural hazards due to its geographic and geophysical characteristics. It has high mountains and hills (steep slopes), considerable differences in elevation, narrow catchment areas, enormous river, water and wind forces (regular rain, raining season, river-flow dynamics, floods, strong winds, typhoons) that are changing and modulating the physical environment. Historically, because of full and dense coverage by forest and other protective vegetation, the landscape has exhibited considerable natural resilience to these influences, including climatic variability, occasional extreme weather events and other major hazard events. Forests, in particular, have played an important role in protecting mountain slopes, the banks of Lao’s wide network of small and large rivers and other natural features from the impacts of extreme weather events. The economic, biological, social – and climate related - values of forests have long been recognized. The existing natural protective and regulatory functions of the forests as the country’s first line of defence against a range of natural hazards including climate risks are therefore a major economic asset of the country. 

A major cause of increasing physical vulnerability to climate risks in Lao PDR, is that these natural assets are not systematically and comprehensively taken into account in the development planning process. Settlements, large tracts of farmland and critical physical infrastructure are at risk due to siting. Furthermore natural resilience is being lost as forests are converted into farmland or land for industrial development, or simply logged for the production of timber, firewood and charcoal. Sandbanks are mined for sand; vegetation areas along the banks and inland wetlands are being converted to other forms of land use. Irrigation and drainage systems are not being designed to withstand future heavier rainfall and flooding. Major physical modifications of mountains and hills that result from logging, quarrying, road construction and some unsuitable forms of slash-and-burn cultivation are often especially damaging to natural resilience, as these usually alter topography and serve as entry points for wind and water erosion. In many parts of the country such interventions have either created fresh problems of flooding and erosion or exacerbated existing ones. Most methods of controlling erosion and flooding rely on engineering and hard physical structures such as walls and bank protection through full coverage with concrete surfaces, which are very expensive and difficult to maintain or replicate. 

As a result of experience over the past years, there is now far greater general understanding of how ineffective land use planning coupled with booming economic development can adversely impact mountains and river systems and increase vulnerability to climate and other natural hazards. However, there are still many constraints to modifying existing approaches to land use, mountain slope, river bank, forest protection and agricultural development in Lao PDR. These include gaps in the policy framework (further development of agricultural policies, sub-sector strategies, technical guidelines and implementation plans), weak intersectoral coordination, limited institutional and individual capacity for climate risk assessment, planning and management, limited technical knowledge and know-how (eg. Climate information management and analysis, technical approaches to agricultural extension with a focus on climate hazards, and community-based approaches for agricultural and rural development) as well as major financial constraints. 

Over the past years agriculture in Lao PDR has been subject to changing economic parameters which include the stimulation of foreign investment, increasing export and market orientation of the producers, tourism development. One of the consequences of these forces has been an expansion of mono-culture practices, often combined with contract farming for investors. This has led to a gradual yet pervasive transformation of farming and food production systems. The single most important factor for market-oriented production is the price (followed by quality of the goods) which usually requires the producer to streamline and rationalize agricultural production. This process needs the gradual introduction of a set of technologies for land management, water supply, seed and crop selection, pest management, harvesting, storage, etc. in order to reduce cost and, subsequently, offer reduced prices. However, because of the highly competitive environment for some agricultural products, the farmer is often forced to go beyond limitations of the agro-ecosystem, leading to various forms of environmental degradation (eg. through the overuse of agriculture inputs causing negative impacts on water quality and soil fertility). 

The investment or work of a farmer into his/her farming system pays off only if the basic natural parameters (agricultural land, soil fertility, grazing land, water access, productive seeds, labour force, etc) remain relatively constant. In this regard the gradual introduction of market economics and inappropriate technologies into a traditional farming system based on subsistence smallholder farming has the effect of dismantling critical protective environmental features in-built within the system; inherited by experience and experience-based knowledge and observation. 

The consequences of changes in economic parameters affecting agriculture and food production is an important strategic issue; it is especially relevant in the context of quality and substance of the sector’s resilience to climate change. Given the small size of Lao PDR’s economy, squeezed between the substantial economic forces of China, Vietnam and Thailand, demand from their markets can easily have the effect of re-structuring agricultural production of Lao PDR, leading to a rapid transition away from subsistence farming. While re-structuring the agricultural sector in Lao PDR is unavoidable, and supply and demand are in principle central functions for production and productivity, attention has to be paid by GoL to the negative side-effects of such processes and to the additional risks presented by increasing climatic variability and change. 

Source: UNDP Lao Project Document (September 30, 2010).

Thematic areas: 
Climate-related hazards addressed: 
Level of intervention: 
Primary beneficiaries: 
Local communities in the target area of Savannakhet and Xayaboury Provinces.
Implementing agencies and partnering organizations: 
Lao PDR National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute
Lao PDR Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
Project status: 
Financing amount: 
US$ 4,450,000 (As of September 30, 2010)
Co-financing total: 
US$ 7,720,000 (As of September 30, 2010)

Key results and outputs

Outcome 1: Knowledge base on Climate Change impacts in Lao PDR on agricultural production, food security and vulnerability, and local coping mechanisms strengthened.

Output 1.1: Existing climate hazard and vulnerability information for Lao PDR compiled and integrated into an agriculture and climate risk information system, coordinated by NAFRI leading to the establishment of a long-term warning system linked through to Province and District Level Agriculture and Forestry departments and the rural farmers via the extension services which they provide. The risk information system will be established in the three target provinces and 5 target districts and the systems trialed, revised and codified for up scaling in other provinces. The system is expected to reach up to 15,000 households under the project and upscale more widely thereafter.

  • 1.1.1 Roundtable meetings with relevant agencies
  • 1.1.2 Agreed information and reporting system: information flow, forms, formats, time frame, and responsibilities
  • 1.1.3 Regular dissemination of information across relevant agencies and to provinces
  • 1.1.4 Streamlining of digital information and maps, accessible online

Output 1.2: Scenarios for agricultural production in Lao PDR assessed on the basis of local expertise, regional and global Climate Change models - building on the ongoing Second National Communication downscaling work and extending this work into the three specific Provinces of concern to this project: Savannakhet, Saravan and Xayaboury.

  • 1.2.1 CC scenarios from international and regional sources available at NAFRI
  • 1.2.2 CC scenarios assessed regarding relevance agriculture and food security in the 3 target provinces
  • 1.2.3 Local and indigenous knowledge made available to inform scenario assessments

Output 1.3: Agricultural land use planning in flood and drought prone areas in three target sites in 3 provinces analyzed and alternative land use plans developed based on climate risk scenarios and long term warning indicators. These revised land use plans will be widely consulted and used as a basis for capacity development activity with planners under Component 2. More than 100 planners drawn from national, provincial, district and local levels will be engaged through the process of developing these alternative land use plans.

  • 1.3.1 MoU with NLMA on local land use plans for target sites
  • 1.3.2 Criteria and indicators for land use plans and CC adaptation defined?
  • 1.3.3 Development of local land use plans through NLMA / PLMA or contractors
  • 1.3.4 Codification into guidelines of process applied in revising land use plans on the basis of climate risk information.

Output 1.4: Comprehensive national long-term information system for flood and drought-related hazards and vulnerabilities, and the effects on agriculture established, managed and updated by NAFRI.

  • 1.4.1 Agreement among relevant partners on structure and content of information system
  • 1.4.2 Establishment of database / system at NAFRI
  • 1.4.3 Maintenance and update of database through NAFRI 

Outcome 2: Capacities of sectoral planners and agricultural producers strengthened to understand and address climate change - related risks and opportunities for local food production and socio-economic conditions. 

Output 2.1: Planners and technical staff within MAF, WREA, MPI, LMA, target PAFOs and DAFOS, and other relevant GoL agencies trained to understand Climate Change risks for agricultural production and review policy and planning options for enhanced food security

  • 2.1.1 Training Need Assessment (TNA) in relevant GoL agencies, and on provincial, district, kumban, village levels
  • 2.1.2 Training curricula developed / provided
  • 2.1.3 Training implemented
  • 2.1.4 Training monitored and assessed

Output 2.2: Climate resilient land-use planning principles developed and integrated into Lao PDR's poverty reduction and agricultural policies & action plans based on outcomes 1 and 3.

  • 2.2.1 Relevant strategies, policies, plans identified and reviewed
  • 2.2.2 Dialogue with relevant agencies on CC modifications and amendments
  • 2.2.3 Relevant strategies, policies, plans updated

Output 2.3: Agricultural officers, extension workers, farmer cooperatives and TSC (Technical Service Center) members in target districts trained in climate change impacts on agricultural production and socio-economic conditions, and potential community-based adaptation options (e.g. agro-forestry, conservation agriculture, replacement / refinement of slash and burn practice, etc.)

  • 2.3.1 Methodology for CC Training and Adaptation Modules (CCTAM) developed with relevant organizations on provincial, district, kumban and village levels
  • 2.3.2 CCTAM Crop/Agro-Forestry
  • 2.3.3 CCTAM Small Livestock
  • 2.3.4 CCTAM Fisheries/Aquaculture
  • 2.3.5 CCTAM Fruit/Vegetables
  • 2.3.6 CCTAM Off-farm adaptation / income
  • 2.3.7 CCTAM “Safeguarding Land” programme for schools, pagodas etc.

Output 2.4: District Disaster Management Committees (DDMC) in target districts trained in climate risk assessment and potential community-based risk reduction strategies, including periodical ground practice with communities

  • 2.4.1 Training Need Assessment DDMCs
  • 2.4.2 Training curricula developed / provided
  • 2.4.3 Training curricula implemented
  • 2.4.4 Annual ground practice with communities on-site
  • 2.4.5 Training and ground practice monitored and assessed

Outcome 3: Community-based adaptive agricultural practices and off-farm opportunities demonstrated and promoted within suitable agro-ecological systems 

Output 3.1: Resilient elements in existing farming systems identified and strengthened as a basis both for wider replication of successful practices and for the introduction of additional adaptation measures using these existing coping mechanisms as entry points.

  • 3.1.1 Analyses of existing farming systems
  • 3.1.2 Identification of resilient elements
  • 3.1.3 Integration of resilient elements into CCTAMs

Output 3.2: Supply chains for different climate-resilient crops, livestock, etc., and farming inputs analyzed and economic impacts/market barriers assessed

  • 3.2.1 Existing supply chain analyses with main agricultural traders in Lao PDR
  • 3.2.2 Identification of suitable crops, inputs etc. available on regional / international supply chains
  • 3.2.3 Economic analyses macro level
  • 3.2.4 Economic impact farming household

Output 3.3: Climate resilient cropping, livestock, fisheries, and forestry practices,  introduced across at least 1 flood-prone and 1 drought-prone area.

  • 3.3.1 Implementation plan for CCTAMs on provincial, district, kumban an village levels
  • 3.3.2 Introduction CCTAM Crop/Agro-Forestry
  • 3.3.3 Introduction CCTAM Small Livestock
  • 3.3.4 Introduction CCTAM Fisheries/Aquaculture
  • 3.3.5 Introduction CCTAM Fruit/Vegetables
  • 3.3.6 Introduction CCTAM Off-farm adaptation / alternative income
  • 3.3.7 Introduction CCTAM 'Safeguarding Lands' in schools

Output 3.4: Diversified agriculture, livestock, fish, vegetables, NTF production, and alternative feasible off-farm activities demonstrated in target districts where farming communities are dependent on rain-fed crops.

  • 3.4.1 Extension process for CCTAMs
  • 3.4.2 Farming systems and farm budgets
  • 3.4.3 Demonstration plots
  • 3.4.4 FFS, Field days and cross-visits by farmers in target districts
  • 3.4.5 Systematic follow up on-site
  • 3.4.6 Farming system monitoring / database

Output 3.5: Rainfall capture, storage and adaptive irrigation and/or drainage management, and small-scale flood protection measures introduced in target drought-prone districts where rainfall is becoming more variable.

  • 3.5.1 Rainfall capture / rainwater harvesting facilities (jars, tanks, etc.) made available
  • 3.5.2 Water storage facilities (ponds, reservoirs) rehabilitated or constructed
  • 3.5.3 Irrigation or drainage facilities with functional O+M mechanism and water user groups rehabilitated
  • 3.5.4 Bank protection and erosion control rehabilitated or constructed
  • 3.5.5 Tree nurseries established
  • 3.5.6 Wells dug or drilled, pending on-site conditions
  • 3.5.7 Equipment, tools etc. provided as material input into the agricultural  extension process

Outcome 4: Project lessons captured in systematic monitoring, and periodically disseminated through, the Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM) and other suitable regionally based networks.

Output 4.1: Project lessons captured in systematic monitoring, and periodically disseminated through, the Adaptation Learning Mechanism (ALM) and other suitable regionally based networks.

  • 4.1.1 Project Monitoring System established
  • 4.1.2 Project website established
  • 4.1.3 Quarterly contribution into ALM, regional networks

Output 4.2: Project knowledge shared with other countries in the Greater Mekong Sub-region facing climate-induced drought and flooding hazards to agricultural production through conferences and workshops at NAFRI

  • 4.2.1 Annual CC Agriculture conference at NAFRI
  • 4.2.2 Production of publications, audio/video materials with focus on creative means of promoting CC adaptation
  • 4.2.3. Project knowledge incorporated into national flood and drought prevention and agricultural training programmes in Lao PDR
  • 4.2.4 Annual workshop on CC Agriculture mainstreaming with relevant institutions and organizations at NAFRI

Source: UNDP Lao Project Document (September 30, 2010).

Reports and publications

Project Brief / Fact Sheet
Brochures, Posters, Communications Products
Reports and Publications by country teams
Reports and Publications of relevance to Country Teams
Knowledge Products
Training & Tools
Quarterly Updates
Annual Reports
Board Meeting Reports
Assessments and Background Documents


Baseline Video: Improving the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector in Lao PDR to Climate Change Impacts (Laotian subtitles)

There are many ways that Laos is being negatively affected by climate change. In response and in order to deal with these negative effects, Laos has identified diversified agriculture, sustainable forestry, effective water management, and improved health conditions as priority adaptation measures.

Baseline Video: Improving the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector in Lao PDR to Climate Change Impacts (English subtitles)

There are many ways that Laos is being negatively affected by climate change. In response and in order to deal with these negative effects, Laos has identified diversified agriculture, sustainable forestry, effective water management, and improved health conditions as priority adaptation measures.

How to Design A Climate Change Adaptation Programme: Lao PDR

This movie is from a power-point presentation on How to Design A Climate Change Adaptation Programme: Lao PDR - Improving the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector to Climate Change Impacts.

Monitoring and evaluation

Project Start:

  • Project Inception Workshop: will be held within the first 2 months of project start with those with assigned roles in the project organization structure, UNDP country office and where appropriate/feasible regional technical policy and programme advisors as well as other stakeholders.  The Inception Workshop is crucial to building ownership for the project results and to plan the first year annual work plan. 


  • Day to day monitoring of implementation progress: will be the responsibility of the Project Manager, based on the project's Annual Work Plan and its indicators, with overall guidance from the Project Director. The Project Team will inform the UNDP-CO of any delays or difficulties faced during implementation so that the appropriate support or corrective measures can be adopted in a timely and remedial fashion.


  • Project Progress Reports (PPR): quarterly reports will be assembled based on the information recorded and monitored in the UNDP Enhanced Results Based Management Platform. Risk analysis will be logged and regularly updated in ATLAS.


  • Annual Project Review/Project Implementation Reports (APR/PIR): This key report is prepared to monitor progress made since project start and in particular for the previous reporting period (30 June to 1 July).  The APR/PIR combines both UNDP and GEF reporting requirements.  

Periodic Monitoring through Site Visits:

  • UNDP CO and the UNDP RCU will conduct visits to project sites based on the agreed schedule in the project's Inception Report/Annual Work Plan to assess first hand project progress.  Other members of the Project Board may also join these visits.  A Field Visit Report/BTOR will be prepared by the CO and UNDP RCU and will be circulated no less than one month after the visit to the project team and Project Board members.

Mid-Term of Project Cycle:

  • Mid-Term Evaluation: will determine progress being made toward the achievement of outcomes and will identify course correction if needed.  It will focus on the effectiveness, efficiency and timeliness of project implementation; will highlight issues requiring decisions and actions; and will present initial lessons learned about project design, implementation and management.  Findings of this review will be incorporated as recommendations for enhanced implementation during the final half of the project’s term.  

End of Project:

  • Final Evaluation: will take place three months prior to the final Project Board meeting and will be undertaken in accordance with UNDP and GEF guidance.  The final evaluation will focus on the delivery of the project’s results as initially planned (and as corrected after the mid-term evaluation, if any such correction took place).  The final evaluation will look at impact and sustainability of results, including the contribution to capacity development and the achievement of global environmental benefits/goals.  The Terminal Evaluation should also provide recommendations for follow-up activities.
  • Project Terminal Report: This comprehensive report will summarize the results achieved (objectives, outcomes, outputs), lessons learned, problems met and areas where results may not have been achieved.  It will also lie out recommendations for any further steps that may need to be taken to ensure sustainability and replicability of the project’s results.

Learning and Knowledge Sharing:

  • Results from the project will be disseminated within and beyond the project intervention zone through existing information sharing networks and forums. 
  • The project will identify and participate, as relevant and appropriate, in scientific, policy-based and/or any other networks, which may be of benefit to project implementation though lessons learned. The project will identify, analyze, and share lessons learned that might be beneficial in the design and implementation of similar future projects.
  • Finally, there will be a two-way flow of information between this project and other projects of a similar focus. 

Source: UNDP Lao Project Document (September 30, 2010)


Khamphone Mounlamai
Project Manager
Manfred Staab
Chief Technical Advisor for the IRAS Project