Luang Prabang, Lao PDR, December 8, 2023 / TRAVELINDEX / The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a $35 million concessional loan and a $10 million grant for the Urban Environment Improvement Investment Project to help support sustainable, inclusive, and resilient urban development in Luang Prabang City in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR).
Luang Prabang City is northern Lao PDR’s major transport and tourism hub with a fast-growing urban core, situated at the junction of the Mekong and Khan Rivers. Its compact historic precinct and surrounding landscape were included in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List in 1995. Since then, the development of much-needed solid waste management and wastewater treatment facilities, urban roads and footpaths, and public greenspace has not kept pace with skyrocketing demand—causing environmental degradation and diminishing livability.
“Luang Prabang’s precious heritage and the livelihoods it supports are increasingly threatened by unplanned urban development, climate change, and disasters that disproportionately affect women and vulnerable groups,” said ADB Country Director for the Lao PDR Sonomi Tanaka. “Better urban infrastructure, environmental management, and tourism services together with gender-responsive integrated urban planning and management are needed to help raise the quality of life in Luang Prabang and make it more resilient to shocks.”
Innovative project components include home-, community-, and training facility-based childcare pilots for recipients of higher education and vocational training scholarships that will be offered to female officials employed in the water supply, sanitation, public works, and tourism sectors. The project will establish a women-led creative industries business development network and prepare the Lao PDR’s first creative city strategy and action plan. Women will also be trained to manage smart infrastructure solutions following the Luang Prabang Integrated and Smart Urban Strategy, prepared under the ADB-administered ASEAN–Australia Smart Cities Trust Fund.
Capacity development to support tariff reforms, strengthen financial management, facilitate private sector investment, and improve disaster preparedness and response will complement the project’s infrastructure investments.
The project is expected to benefit 104,500 residents and 1.3 million annual visitors by 2031.
ADB is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region.