National Early Warning Centre (NEWC)
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Lao PDR - Department of Meteorology and Hydrology

National Early Warning Centre

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Overall Project Background

The Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS) Flood and Drought Management and Mitigation Project supports the Government of Lao PDR to undertake structural and non-structural measures to prepare for and manage disaster risks linked to floods and droughts. Project interventions, as formulated in the Terms of reference are: (i) enhance regional data and knowledge for the management of floods and droughts; (ii) upgrade or develop water management infrastructure; and (iii) prepare communities to manage disasters such as flood and drought and adapt to climate change.

Floods and droughts have great impact on social, environmental and economic conditions in urban and rural Laos. Reliable hydro-meteorological data and the development of an effective early warning system are essential to mitigate the losses from flood and drought disasters. To achieve this goal, improvement of the hydro-meteorological network, effective data transmission and management system, development of forecasting models, early warning and public awareness, as well as effective communication system are necessary.

Capacity building and upgrading of DMH facilities is critical for management of risks associated with floods and droughts (early warning), and water resources management and development. To improve the management and operation of an early warning system, investments are required to strengthen the hydro-meteorological network and to support data capturing, communication and processing, and weather and flood forecasting and dissemination

The two priority river basins: Sebangfai and Sebanghieng

Two priority basins for hydro-meteorological data collection and early warning system development: The Sebangfai and the Sebanghieng River Basins. These two basins are among the most flood affected river basins in Lao PDR.

The Sebangfai River Basin is located in the central part of the Lao PDR. This basin covers an area of 10,498 km², and comprises two provinces: Khammouane and Savannakhet. The average annual volume of the basin water is 13.6 billion cubic meters, and mean annual rainfall across the basin is estimated at 2,600 millimetersmillimetres, resulting in a mean annual discharge of 494 m³/s, with mean maximum discharge being 3,422 m³/s, and peak flood of over 4,000 m³/s. During the dry season (November to April), the Sebangfai carries little water, with most of the discharge (90 percent) occurring during the rainy season (from May to October).

The Sebanghieng Basin covers most of Savannakhet province flowing from the Lao-Vietnam border to the Mekong. The river stretches over a length of 370 km, draining an area of approx. 20,000 km². Its main tributaries are the Sepone, Sethamouk and Sechamphone. Mean annual precipitation is 1,600 mm, contributing to a mean annual discharge of 538 m³/s, a mean maximum discharge of 4,097 m³/s and a peak flood of 8,500 m³/s. The average annual volume of the basin water is 15.7 billion cubic meters.


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