Water, Sewage & Effluent May June 2019 - Page 26

A community-based pilot project in Laos is assisting farmers with irrigation using groundwater during the dry season. Compiled by Tarren Bolton L aos has vast surface water resources, with a very large amount per capita compared with other countries of the Greater M e k o n g Subregion. So, why would groundwater irrigation interest farmers in this country? The answer is because of exceptions to the general rule. Some locations are prone to seasonal water scarcity, leaving communities vulnerable to drought and limiting their options to improve food security and livelihoods through crop production in the dry season. Such is the lot of Ekxang village, situated about 55km from Vientiane, Laos’s capital city. Its access to surface water is minimal and most of its 236 households depend on rainfall for rice cultivation during the wet season. In the dry season, villagers also grow a wide range of vegetables and herbs (including cash crops such as cucumber and watermelon) in home gardens and increasingly on riceland. Climate change poses a growing threat to crop production in these villages, altering wet season rainfall A way forward for a dry village This supplementary resource helps farmers become more resilient to unpredictable climates and increases their productivity during the dry season. 24 Water Sewage & Effluent May/June 2019 www.waterafrica.co.za