Khai Paen

 

Khai Paen (Crispy River Weed) links natural resource production with water quality

 

By demonstrating the value of the Khai Paen resource for village livelihoods, TABI is linking this valuable source of income with the water quality in the rivers Khai Paen is collected from.

January 2014

 

There are at least 7 species of macro-algae found in the Mekong River and its tributaries that are used to make 'crispy river weed' sheets, or 'Khai Paen'. TABI, through the 'Crispy River Weed Quality Improvement and Marketing' project, has been working with the District and Provincial Lao Women's Union to improve productivity, quality, and marketing of this very important natural resource.

The TABI supported Khai Paen project is working in four villages in four separate districts of Luang Prabang Province. The total value of the production of “khai paen” in these four villages alone is worth around 1,250 million kip or US$1.5 million. That is equivalent to an average gross revenue of 25.7 million kip or $3,215 per household per year.

In addition to providing an important revenue source for a number of villages, these fresh-river algae are also a natural and essential part of the ecosystem, growing underwater on rocks. They thrive in clear spots of running water in the Mekong River and other smaller rivers and streams. In these habitats, the algae are a vital part of the aquatic food chain.  Small fresh-water crustaceans, small fishes and other small animals consume these algae and in turn are consumed by larger animals. The giant catfish, “pa beuk” , the largest species of fish found in the Mekong River,  feeds almost exclusively on these algae.

 

 By demonstrating and communicating the importance of river and stream water quality with the production of Khai Paen, it is hoped that future catchment management and development decisions that may affect water quality take potential impacts on the Khai Paen into consideration.

The sustainable management of this natural aquatic resource promoted by TABI and its project partners will provide an ongoing source of revenue for a large number of villagers, as well as contribute to the conservation of aquatic biodiversity.