Laos signs agreement to reduce pollution and strengthen water resources management in Nam Tha River Basin

Friday, 4 August 2023


L-R: Dr. Inthavy Akkharath, Director General of the Department of Water Resources (Lao PDR) and Ms. Aimee Gonzales, Executive Director of PEMSEA Resource Facility, during the agreement signing with Lao PDR for the implementation of the IRBM Project. Photo by PEMSEA/Rizza Dejucos


Ha Noi, Viet Nam – The Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic signed a memorandum of agreement with Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) to reduce pollution and strengthen water resources management in Nam Tha River Basin. Through the Department of Water Resources (DWR) of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE), the agreement covers the five-year implementation of the Integrated River Basin Management (IRBM) Project.


The IRBM Project is designed to improve the governance and management arrangements of a river basin through science-based information to help in planning and policy development. The Project will also increase capacity of national and local stakeholders in river basin management, introduce pilot projects that can help reverse degradation of natural resources within the river basin, and conduct awareness drive among communities.


In Lao PDR, the Nam Tha River Basin is considered as one of the top 12 priority river basins. It covers 1.4% of the Mekong River catchment, which is part of a protected area. The Nam Tha River is also an important source of water, channel for tourism and transport, a frontline defense of local communities against floods, and a source of hydropower for machinery in agriculture, forestry, and mining sectors. 

A fisher along Nam Tha River

A fisher in Nam Tha River - communities along the river basin rely on the natural resources for food and livelihood. Photo by PEMSEA/John Castillo.


The Nam Tha River Basin passes through three provinces – Luang Namtha, Oudomxay, and Bokeo. People are heavily dependent on natural resources, especially water resources, for food security, employment, and economic growth. Currently, the water resource management needs in Nam Tha River requires improvement to address threats from land use change which causes forest and biodiversity loss.


“I would like to express our happiness on signing this agreement for the IRBM Project. We have completed the project inception for  Nam Tha River Basin. We  are able to get the commitment from the governors of three provinces (Loung Namtha, Oudomexay, and Borkeo) to contribute and cooperate in the project implementation,” said Dr. Inthavy Akkharath, Director General of the DWR-MNRE


The signing was held during the 15th East Asian Seas Partnership Council Meeting in Ha Noi, Viet Nam last July 27, 2023. The agreement will serve as a framework for cooperation between the Government of Lao PDR and PEMSEA. The IRBM Project is being implemented by PEMSEA in six countries, with support from the United Nations Development Programme and the Global Environment Facility, in collaboration with ASEAN.






Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) is a regional coordinating mechanism for the sustainable development of seas and coast in East Asia. PEMSEA works with 11 countries in the region with a shared vision of a healthy ocean, people, and economies.


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Rizza Sacra-Dejucos
Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist

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