More than 140 rural schools in Laos access to sanitation

June 24, 2011

School children in the Savannakhet province of Laos.

AEON and Japan Committee for UNICEF help to improve schools and sanitation in rural villages

(KPL) More than 140 rural schools in three provinces of Savannakhet, Luang Prabang and Xiengkhouang currently access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services thanks to the financial support of the AOEN and the Japan Committee for UNICEF.

The fund was used for increasing equitable and sustained access to and use of improved water, sanitation and hygiene services in communities. The AOEN and the Japan Committee for UNICEF (JCU) have provided 148 school buildings with toilet and hand washing facilities with a total allocated fund of $8,760,000 (13 in Savannakhet, 62 in Luang Prabang, and 73 in Xiengkhouang) since 2006.

In addition, AEON/JCU provided another $373,840 through the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme to support water supply systems for all the school host villages which is in progress under WASH and the Government’s Nam Saat implementation.

To monitor the progress of the project implementation, from 19 – 20 June 2011, an AEON delegation, including Mr Akihiko HARADA – Board Chairperson of AEON, Mr TOMOMURA – Secretary General AEON and the Executive Director of Japan Committee for UNICEF – Mr Ken HAYAMI visited location in Lao PDR including Ban Say Nadou, Kham district of Xiengkhouang province to observe supported water supply systems in schools and communities and met with villagers and local authorities.

In Say Nadou village, with AEON funding, one new water tap has been built for the new school, and 11 existing water taps were improved for the community.

Mr Khammeung Phengmala, Village Head of Ban Say Nadou told the media that before having the water system, people had to collect water from the river which was less clean and took valuable time away from other work. It was a hard work particularly for women and children. The new system is very convenient because we have tap water near our house. Children have more time for their studies and hobbies while women have more time for house work, weaving and agriculture. “We are very grateful for the support from AEON and UNICEF that has made life easier and healthier” said Mr Khammeung.

Happily having shower at water tap near her house, a 10 years old student, Ms Khamphong Douangvilay said: “It is wonderful to have such clean water near our house. I don’t have to walk a long way for fetching water. I am now studying better because I have more time to do my home works and prepare for the examinations”.

Giving an interview to the media, Mr Singnavong Phanlakham, Vice Governor of Kham district, also noted appreciation for the assistance from AEON and UNICEF. “This contributes to the implementation of government policy on poverty reduction and the millennium development goal targets that are set in the National Economic development plan,” he said. I’m urging villagers to ensure they maintain and sustain the water system.

After visiting the village and observing the water system and schools of quality, Mr Akihiko HARADA expressed his satisfaction saying he is happy to see quality water systems in place, and people including children enjoying good education and clean water.

Mr Ken HAYAMI pointed out that AEON and UNICEF have supported several projects for school and water and sanitation in the Lao PDR and thinks that this project has met its expected outcomes of improved drinking water and basic sanitation in communities.

Dr. Soutsakhone Chanthaphone, Director of Centre for Environmental Health and Water Supply said the Lao government, particularly the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education has coordinated with UNICEF and AEON to improve water and sanitation for schools and communities and closely monitored the implementation of the project. Several schools have good buildings and water supply; however, there are a lot of schools in rural areas still requiring assistance, and therefore more funding is needed.

Mr Mahboob Ahmed Bajwa, Chief of WASH Section of UNICEF, noted that the AEON group has supported Lao PDR through the Japan National Committee for UNICEF and become instrumental in moving forward child rights in the country.

“Providing safe water is not only a complementary to education, but also to survival and growth by complementing nutrition and health conditions. … Now the villages have improved water supply systems. Today demonstrated these collaborative efforts, and we hope to continue (this collaboration) during our next country program running from 2012 – 2015,” added Mr Bajwa.


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