The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved two funding projects for the sustainable urban development of the Luang Prabang UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern Laos.
According to ADB, the USD-35-million concessional loan and the USD-10-million grant will be used to develop pilot projects under the Luang Prabang Integrated and Smart Urban Strategy, with initial plans for the development of solid waste management and wastewater treatment facilities, urban roads and footpaths, and public green spaces.
The province has been a tourist attraction since its inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1995 and has welcomed skyrocketing domestic and international visitors ever since. In the first nine months of 2023, Luang Prabang welcomed 210,129 tourists.
However, the Bank addressed the province’s lack of success in developing facilities in conjunction with the increasing number of tourists, which has caused environmental degradation and diminished 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 Laos, Sonomi Tanaka.
In a commitment to fostering more resilient communities, ADB is set to embark on an innovative project encompassing home, community, and training facility-based childcare pilots designed specifically for individuals pursuing higher education. Additionally, the initiative will extend vocational training scholarships to female professionals engaged in critical sectors such as water supply, sanitation, public works, and tourism.
As a pivotal element of the project, a women-led creative industries business development network will be established, coupled with the formulation of Laos’ inaugural creative city strategy and action plan.
Anticipated outcomes of the project include benefits for 104,500 residents and an annual influx of 1.3 million visitors by the year 2031.