Since 1966, over 70 percent of drought or flood disasters in Lao PDR have occurred during El NiAo and La NiAa years, with major impacts on the Lao agricultural sector and the overall economy, according to World Bank reported in Vientiane Capital on Oct 19, 2018.
These findings as well as recommendations for strengthening resilience to ENSO were discussed today in Vientiane during the presentation of the World Bank Report Striking a Balance: Managing El NiAo and La NiAa in Lao Agriculture.
The El NiAo Southern Oscillation (ENSO) refers to fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and atmosphere, which affect global weather and climate. El NiAo is ENSO’s warm phase, which causes rainfall declines and drought risk. La NiAa, ENSO’s cool phase, usually follows a year later and causes rainfall increases and flood risks. The report finds that although El NiAo and La NiAa’s effects in Lao PDR vary between regions, their adverse impact on agriculture, livelihoods and the economy is substantial. While Lao PDR has improved its resilience to climate related hazards, more can be done to prepare for ENSO specifically.
We need to strengthen country preparedness for ENSO events. This is the second joint workshop on ENSO, and the report provides useful information for future development, said Xaypladeth Choulamany, Director General, Department of Planning and Finance, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, who co-chaired today’s ENSO workshop.
This research is timely given the severity of the last El NiAo event in Lao PDR from 2014-2016, which caused water shortages across the country. The latest forecasts predict that Lao PDR is likely to experience another El NiAo beginning as soon as next month, said Nicola Pontara, World Bank Country Manager for Lao PDR. Severe weather patterns disproportionately affect women and poor households and threaten the long-term advances that Lao PDR has made in poverty reduction.
Recommendations for Lao PDR to better prepare for El NiAo and La NiAa include investing in early warning systems, creating an ENSO Focal Point and action plan, developing risk maps, targeting the most vulnerable areas, improving ENSO financing mechanisms, and cooperating with other Southeast Asian countries to counter ENSO- related challenges. In the agricultural sector it is also possible to limit losses by promoting on-farm investments such as drought-tolerant seeds and expanding small-scale irrigation infrastructure.
Our hope is that this report provides the evidence needed to promote action both in Lao PDR and among its neighbors. Moreover, If Lao PDR can learn to harness the rebound from La NiAa, it can offset the social, economic, and agricultural losses from El NiAo, said William R. Sutton, Lead Agricultural Economist at the World Bank, and the report’s team leader.
The Multi-Donor Global Food Price Crisis Response Trust Fundfinanced by the Governments of Spain, Korea, Canada and Australia supported the undertaking of this report, one of five country studies on ENSO in the whole East Asia and Pacific Region.
Source: Lao News Agency