A Need for Environment Awareness and Care in Lao PDR

Setouvanh Phanthavongsa, ELP 2013, Laos

A significant increase in population growth and the expansion of the socio-economic situation of the People’s Republic of Lao PDR during the last decade (1995 onwards) is clearly observed. Consequently, an increase in the demand of natural resources has occurred in the country, specifically for food, medicine and cloth. In addition, innovations and technologies are obviously required. The socio-economic growth and trend toward a utilization of the natural resources of the country inevitably brings about environment problems, including pollution, degradation and waste. Most people are not aware of how to utilize natural resources wisely and sustainably. They do not care how to protect and preserve the environment for sustainable development.

In my view, we will be able to delay socio-economic development in order to sustain our natural resources use for our future. Lao PDR is a country which is rich and plentiful with natural resources; there are forests, mines, fertile soil and natural waters. One among them is the river and stream environment which covers 35% of the total area of Lao PDR. It can potentially become a hydropower energy source, as well as a habitat for aquatic life, a food source and a tourist location.  The rich natural resources influence traditional and cultural heritages of Lao PDR.

Indeed, river and stream protection and conservation is critically important to help protect ecosystems. In my view, an initiative should be put forth to promote local and public participation in the surveillance and protection of ecosystems, habitats and wildlife. Local actions through participation, however, are a challenge.

Biomonitoring of rivers and streams through a local participatory approach is a tool to effectively and empirically strengthen local communities’ understanding of local ecosystems. Additionally, water-quality data obtained by local communities will be used as a basis for surveillance and corrective and mitigating actions. The training will also upgrade local knowledge on environmental protection. In summary, water resources and environment management will be an effective tool for protection. It will assist all stakeholders and parties in an attempt to revive environment conditions.  Moreover, a sustainable use of natural resources will beneficially impact both the government and ourselves through a reduction of the expenses required to implement an environmental protection program.