The government of Lao PDR has initiated first steps to implement a Rural Electrification NAMA which proposes to construct a small grid-connected hydroplant in one of Laos' largest conservation areas. The project, which builds on achievements from Laos’ INDC and NAMA design supported by UNDP, will further enhance access to energy and contribute to poverty alleviation by improving energy-dependent income generation opportunities.

Nam Theun Protected Area

The target region of the project is the Nam Theun 2 Watershed which is comprised of the Nakai Nam Theun National Protected Area and two corridors adjacent to other protected areas. With approximately 4,000 km2, the is the 23 largest National Protected Area of Lao PDR and an important protected inland area marked for conservation in Asia.


Photo: Nam Theun Protected Area | UNDP Lao PDR

The target communities in the Kobong and Thaphaiban village cluster are located in a highly remote area, which can be accessed only by boat. A team of experts visited the site in April to assess the potential for implementing a reliable hydropower system that will provide benefits for more than 1,000 people in these communities.


Photo: Nam Theun Protected Area | UNDP Lao PDR

Key Development Benefits

Public services such as dispensaries and schools can enhance their services for their communities. With access to electricity and better lighting, schools can offer educational activities after work at night time. This will allow adults in the village communities to enhance their professional capacities. Dispeniaries will be able to cool critical medications.


Photo: Kobong Commercial Activities at Night | UNDP Lao PDR

Electricity will enable production activities which can promote income generation activities for the rural communities. For example: people in this area have been planting tea trees since 1940, which provide the potential for value-added activities such as tea processing and market development.

With access to electricity, communities will be able to access real-time knowledge and market information from outside their communities through television and telephone (ICT). Electricity will also power electrical appliances such as refrigerator, telephone, television, and radio.


Photo: Laos Thaphaiban Lit House | UNDP Lao PDR


Access to electricity is one of the key criteria for poverty assessment criteria. The new UNDP NDC project activities will provide incentives to enhance livelihoods and pursue zero carbon development through the construction of a small grid-connected hydropower plant. The completion of the project is seen as one of Laos’ key contributions to the Paris commitments and Agenda 2030.


Related publication: 

Lao PDR Rural Electrification NAMA


Alexandra Soezer
UNDP New York

Margaret Jones Williams