Urbanization is an emerging issue. In Lao PDR, urban areas are experiencing higher population growth rates than the national average, signifying rural urban migration. Urban areas are also associated with a number of issues, such as growing inequality, migrant workers, child protection, HIV, child undernutrition among urban families, non-communicable diseases, pollution and poor sanitation.
The share of urban population in Laos increased to over one-third of the total population in 2015. This is still well below the global average of 54 percent. The urban population growth rate was 4.5 percent over the period 2005-2015, with more than two-thirds of population growth in Vientiane Capital in recent years caused by net in-migration. Indications are that most migration is rural to urban, primarily to Vientiane Capital. There is also a significant movement across the border to Thailand, which has similar language and culture. However, reliable statistics are scarce.
From 2007 to 2013, inequality has increased within urban areas, which shows the need for targeting the urban poor with specific interventions.
Urban sanitation is generally poor. Vientiane Capital suffers from the lack of adequate drainage and sewerage systems, and the poor design of existing sewerage disposal or septic tanks. From households and industries on the edge of the city, the untreated effluent overflows or runs into low-lying areas, posing a threat to public health and the environment. To meet 2020 national planning targets, the World Bank calculated that each year, Lao PDR would need to invest US$ 19 million for urban water supply and US$ 12 million for urban sanitation.
Sustainable city life is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals. Learn more about Goal 11 and its targets.