According to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)-Factsheet Lao PDR has steadily increased access to safe drinking water, but will need to accelerate progress to achieve its 2015 target.
In 2011/2012, some 70 per cent of the total population had access to improved sources of drinking water, an increase of two-and-a-half times from 1990. Both the urban and rural areas have made steady progress, but the rural-urban gap has not changed since 2005. Urban sanitation has progressed rapidly and already achieved 88 per cent coverage. The rural coverage, however, has lagged behind.
The high prevalence of open defecation (38 per cent) means that sanitation targets and plans will need to address this risk. Even if Lao PDR achieves the MDG target of 60 per cent, the population practising open defecation will still be large. Consequently, the Government is stepping up initiatives to reduce this risk.
The approach called Developing Model Healthy Villages will contribute significantly to improving the sanitation, hygiene and health of the villages and will bring the sanitation goal closer.
In the past, families living in Long-Ya village relied on nature, mostlyusing the forest for their toilet.Mountains and forests surround this village and there is a river that runs along site it.It is not far from the ViengKham town, but the roads are bad, especially during the rainy season.The village population is 70 households, 82 families, 137 students and 103 sponsored children.
The community relied on using water from the river, and this lead to poor health especially with children. People were often sick with diarrhea or malaria.
Living in this village is Khamsen, 54, his wife Suer, 48, and their 6 children. Two of their children are registered in World Vision programmes. Khamsen works as a farmer, growing rice and raising animals.
“A few years ago, our family faced health problems and it very difficult when ‘nature-called’ and we had to run into the forest beside the village. It waseven harder when the rainy season came. I pitiedmy children. I worried that an insect or snakewould bite them during the night,” said Khamsen.
“My son Khakham, 11,was always sick with diarrhea and malaria, causing himto miss school. It was not only my family that faced these problems, other families and children in our village also faced the same issues.”
Many children were afraid to go into the forest, so theywould go behind their houses. The urinating and defecating close to the houses made the village environment unclean and spreadillness.
World Vision implemented a water and sanitation project in Khamsen’s village and provided water systems to 8 target villages. They also provided a latrine fund to 297 families in 5 target villages.
Khamsen’s family attended the activities and received money from the latrine fund.
“I was happy to attend the training and learn about water and sanitation, like ensuring our clothes are clean, keeping our house clean, drinking boiled water, and using a toilet,” says Khamsen.
“I am happy that I got a new toilet, a safe place near my house that I can use anytime. It is much more comfortable than going in the forest,” says registered child Khakham.“I dream of becoming a teacher and teach children in my own village. I love to study the environment. Through this subject I know and learn many things.”