UN-Habitat is supporting the 8th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and the long-term development agenda of the Government of Lao PDR with an overall goal of graduating from its Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2020, through supporting sustained inclusive economic growth, enhancing human development and reducing the effects of natural shocks. UN-Habitat in Lao PDR is especially focusing on strengthening areas in: Urban Legislation, Land and Governance; Urban Planning and Design (with a particular focus on climate change); and Urban Basic Services, allowing for a holistic approach in addressing the countries diverse challenges and needs.

Population (2018)
6.96 million
Total value of projects
US$ 11,378,215
No. of projects (2014 - 2019)
Total: 10

Lao PDR is characterized by rapid and uncontrolled urbanization as a result of rural-urban migration. Although many parts of Lao PDR are still predominantly rural, with more than two thirds (67.1 per cent) of the people living in areas defined as rural. At the same time, Lao PDR is facing the highest urbanization rate in Asia, at a rate of 4.9 per cent, which is more than twice the global average of 2 per cent. This poses a huge pressure on urban and emerging urban settlements.

Additionally, some houses in urban areas are still without electricity and about 10 per cent of urban areas of the country have not yet been covered by an improved source of drinking water. Also, about 40% of everyday waste produced, approximately 6 kg/person, are disposed at the road side, back yard, water way or by open burning. The untreated water has become a cause of concern in most cities.

Over 120,000 people across 14 provinces have access to resilient WASH infrastructures.
Increased capacities on Build Back Better principles of approximately 50 local carpenters/artisans and benefiting over 40,000 people.
Comprehensive vulnerability assessments conducted in 189 settlements in 8 districts in 3 provinces.
Urban numbers
Rapid and uncontrolled urbanization as a result of rural-urban migration poses massive pressure in urban and emerging settlements.  
Urban and rural settlements in Laos have low adaptive and resiliency capacities which exacerbates their vulnerabilities to climatic hazards.  
Environmental challenges are intensified by low capacity solid waste management and waste water treatment infrastructures.

“We are very proud and happy to have received this classroom. We will definitely be utilising this space in our lessons.”

Ms. Inthavane Orachith, Teacher at a school where a new water classroom was added, as a part of a community-based water, sanitation and hygiene project

Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or click the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

Our human rights strategy promotes inclusion and equality of all people. Through active participation, engagement and involvement, UN-Habitat’s projects aim to strengthen community ownership and participation.

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Recent data has shown that women in most areas of Lao PDR face a lack of awareness about maternal health and malnutrition, and education inequality. UN-Habitats inclusive workshops and training programs aim to generate skills and promote education; achieving health and population indicators through the active participation of all, particularly poor and ethnic minority women.

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Adequate access to water and sanitation facilities means less threat from illness and malnutrition for society’s most vulnerable. Upgrading housing settlements also means that these groups are adequately protected from more frequent and extreme climate events.

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There is added threat of harm and disablement in Laos due to the constant threat of UXO’s. UN-Habitat in Laos provides facilities which negate the necessity for long, unsafe water collection walks as well as supplies shelter and planning, helping to keep people away from harm.

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Donors and partners

UN-Habitat will follow the vision of the United Nations Partnership Framework 2017-2021 to address the priorities of Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Thus, three pillars will guide its work: inclusive growth, livelihoods and resilience, human development and governance. UN-Habitat will look for opportunities to further public-private partnerships with the aim of ensuring the sustainability of the actions and supporting the Government’s Sam Sang Policy.

Building on the experience of the Global Land Tool Network, and in partnership with local government organizations, UN-Habitat will address existing urban land problems and opportunities, utilizing a wide range of tools, including land readjustment.

In response to addressing the necessity of risk reduction and rehabilitation, UN-Habitat will draw upon agency-wide expertise to engage in both reducing urban risk and responding to urban crises through its Resilient Cities Programme and Settlements Recovery Programme, respectively, in partnership with the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and the Making Resilient Cities Campaign.


Dr. Avi Sarkar
Regional Advisor – South East Asia
UN Urban Basic Services Branch

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