Vientiane Capital Grapples with Water Crisis, Residents Demand Action

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Vientiane Capital Grapples with Water Crisis, Residents Demand Action
FILE: this image is used only for representational purpose (photo: metrohm)

Many households in Vientiane Capital are currently grappling with water supply-related issues, including outages and low pressure. The problem stems from technical difficulties with the water production equipment, making it challenging for the government to supply sufficient water to every household, as stated in an official notice from the Water Supply State Enterprise of Vientiane Capital on 4 May.

According to the announcement, the issue lies in the excessive water demand across the capital due to frequent power outages, as well as the ongoing sweltering weather conditions. This has caused intermittent disruption in water production, leading to delayed water delivery to some households, especially those in elevated and suburban areas.

To mitigate the damage, the government has encouraged residents to use water wisely and to reserve some by storing it in containers for later use should the outage occur.

Despite the government’s efforts to alleviate the situation, residents continue to voice their frustration. Many have taken their concern to social media, saying that Laos is not new to experiencing water outages as the problem also occurred in previous years. However, the blame is on the government for not being able to efficiently prepare to tackle the issue but urging residents to reserve water.

One resident from Dongnasok village, Sikhottabong district, Douangsavanh ‘Jack’ Phimmasone, whose household is subjected to low-pressure water shared his experience with the Laotian Times. The water pressure in his house started to flow awfully low ever since the country entered the hot season, approximately in mid-March.

“I have to store water in a tank at night time and use it sparingly, as for drinking water, we filter it in advance, in a 20-liter bottle,” said Jack as he explained how he handled the situation. 

“We are right next to the Mekong River which is a major source of water, they should do better to provide more than enough water for all residents within the capital, and make a budget for expanding the water supply,” he added. 

Although Jack has experienced water supply issues in the past, he noted that this year’s situation is particularly severe due to the scorching heat wave sweeping across Southeast Asia.

While Jack’s experience with low water pressure is unpleasant, Kyungmin Sarah Kim, a South Korean national living in Nongbone village, Saysettha district, is facing an even greater challenge with complete water outages.

“From the end of April, water has been cut off once every two days. Starting in early May, water has been cut off every half day,” Sarah explained.

Similar to Jack, Sarah has been managing by filling water in containers beforehand. “I used bottled water for drinking as washing water,” she added.

Sarah expressed frustration at not receiving advance notice of the outages, describing the experience as “emotionally embarrassing” as it’s her first time encountering such a problem with the water supply.

“I have never received such a government notice. Are they simply pretending to make an announcement?” she wondered.

The combination of boiling temperature and water shortages is posing extreme health and well-being challenges to both local residents and foreigners living in Laos. While the government has advised prudent water use and is working to address the problem, the frustration and inconvenience felt by residents indicate the need for more robust long-term solutions to ensure reliable water access for all.