Vulnerability

Lao PDR has a low capacity to adapt to climate change because of its poor socioeconomic development. From 1970 to 2010, 33 natural hazard events (mostly floods and droughts) were registered, affecting almost 9 million people and causing economic damages of over US$400 million. According to a 2009 vulnerability mapping exercise conducted for South East Asia, the areas of Phongsali, Houaphan, and Louang Namtha are considered hotspots for the impacts of multiple hazards, including floods, droughts, landslides, sea level rise, earthquakes, landslides, and others. 

This section provides a summary of key natural hazards and their associated socioeconomic impacts in a given country. And it allows quick evaluation of most vulnerable areas through the spatial comparison of natural hazard data with development data, thereby identifying exposed livelihoods and natural systems.

Natural Hazard Statistics

The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.

Metadata

Climate change is now recognized to have a significant impact on disaster management efforts and pose a significant threat to the efforts to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable populations. The demands of disaster risk management are such that concise, clear, and reliable information is crucial. The information presented here offers insight into the frequency, impact and occurrence of natural hazards.

Natural Hazard / Development Nexus

Understanding natural hazard occurrence as well as historical climate conditions, in relation to development contexts, is critical to understanding a country’s historical vulnerability. This tool allows the visualization of different natural hazards or historical climate conditions with socio-economic and development datasets. Select the Development Context and either a Natural Hazard or Climate Condition and overlay horizontally by sliding the toggle left or right to gain a broader sense of historically vulnerable areas.


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Data presented under Historical Climate Conditions are reanalysis products derived from ERA5-Land data. ERA5-Land is a global land-surface dataset at 9 km resolution, consistent with atmospheric data from the ERA5 reanalysis from 1950 onward. Climate reanalyses combine past observations with models to generate consistent time series of multiple climate variables. They provide a comprehensive description of the observed climate as it has evolved during recent decades, on 3D grids at sub-daily intervals. 

This data has been collected, aggregated and processed by the Climate Resilience Cluster of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Earth Observation for Sustainable Development (EO4SD) initiative.

Key Vulnerabilities
  • Lao PDR is very vulnerable to droughts. Five droughts have affected the country over the past 40 years. It is estimated that around 188,000 households in Lao PDR are at risk of food insecurity caused by drought.
  • The areas of Lao PDR most vulnerable to flooding are the plain areas along the Mekong River in the central and southern parts. Fifteen floods have occurred in Lao PDR from 1970 to 2010.
  • Eight epidemic events have taken place in the past four decades. Disease outbreaks such as smallpox, malaria, diarrhea, dysentery, dengue fever and cholera have been registered.  These epidemics have been associated with recurrent floods and droughts affecting the country over the past years. 
  • Five storms or tropical cyclones have reached and affected the country over the last two decades. These storms as well as the impacts from southwest monsoons have affected over one and a half million people and caused damages of over US$400,000.

More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.

  • An increase in floods is expected to have implications on the agricultural lands along the Mekong River and its tributaries.
  • An increase in temperatures along with a decrease of rainfall during the dry season might lead to longer and severe droughts. Climate change and the increase in frequency and in magnitude of these events are expected to make more people food insecure in particular in the rural areas.
  • Rising temperatures will increase the incidence and range of pests and, when combined with decreased rainfall and increased demand, higher temperatures will also present new challenges related to water storage or transfer mechanisms.
  • Climate change might threaten and lead to a loss in agricultural production (in particular rice), impacting the economy and food security of the country.
  • Increased impacts by climate change will increase migration and displacement due to a higher rate of natural disasters & poverty; this will include enhanced impacts due to epidemics and health problems.