The Xe Bang Fai River is home to an incredibly diverse range of habitats and species, including over 130 different species of fish. Over 150,000 people are dependent on the river and wetlands for their livelihoods, particularly in relation to fisheries, rice and vegetable agriculture. These ecosystems are subject to high water fluctuations and floods, impacting the ecology of the Xe Bang Fai River. People in the basin are extremely vulnerable to changes in river flows for their livelihoods. Moreover, water quality has been deteriorated due to few sanitary landfills and non-environmental friendly practices in agriculture.
Thus, The Asia Foundation (TAF) has implemented community-based activities designed to promote sustainable use and monitoring of natural resources (rivers, fisheries, forests) through the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) concept, within the Xe Bang Fai river basin in Napork, Nyangkham and Hadkhamhieng villages. In this concept, all the different uses of water resources are considered together. The Community-based Water Resource Management project focused on a citizen sciences process for the river basin management that helped communities to understand and take ownership over the management of community water resources.
One “wetlands and fisheries” group was established in each of the three target villages. They developed a wetland and fishery management plan with regulations to protect the local fisheries from harmful practices, such as fishing with illegal fishing practices using poison or electrofishing gear. TAF also trained some villagers on the use of macroinvertebrates to assess water quality. Moreover, TAF supported wetland enhancements to increase the amount of fish and other aquatic biodiversity. Another component of the project was to create a waste management committee in each village, to regulate waste management and prevent villagers from contaminating their river, since there is no waste disposal and collection. People learnt about waste separation, recycling and composting in schools and villages. Moreover, farmers groups were created to learn about organic agriculture approaches for rice and vegetable farming, as well as two sustainable rice agriculture approaches: direct seeding and System of Rice Intensification (SRI).