For several decades, access to potable drinking water was a nightmare for the community members of Ban Cholavieng, of which women were the most affected due to ascribed gender roles. Every single day, about 128 people living in this community, which is 20km away from the district centre, spent most of their time walking through the mountainous paths of Ta Oi district, fetching water.
An 11-kilometre journey through the rocks, climbing and going down with loaded water buckets on the way back home.
“My little girl and other children of the village regularly suffered from diarrhoea and fell sick because of the lack of good water” - this was a lamenting statement from In, a 22 years old mother.
In 2019, Accelerating Healthy Agriculture and Nutrition (AHAN) project started to implement its activities in Saravane province. With the cooperation of the Lao government, the project conducted water survey and design, identifying the crucial need for Ban Cholavieng community. To address the water shortage in this village, AHAN provided a new borehole, located at the centre of the village, accessible to the 19 households. This was the first step of a new era for the villagers: accessing quality water quickly and easily. Now provided with the new installation, the community needs to take care of this precious commodity.
The set-up of a Village Water and Sanitation Management Committee (VWSMC) encouraged all the people to participate in the protection and management of the borehole by constructing a fence, roof and bamboo dust bin to keep the new villagers’ ‘favourite place’ clean and ensure its sustainability, with the help of district NAMSAAT. Complementary messages on the importance of treating the water before use and handwashing with soap were also delivered during community-wide WASH events, to promote good hygiene in Ban Cholavieng.
Now I have time to take care of my two-year-old daughter, to breastfeed her and to cook food with good water.
“Today we have enough clean water for everybody,” explains Mrs In. “It is so convenient! We save time by getting water in a short distance, and I have no longer concerns about the water scarcity and quality,” she adds. “Since we have this borehole near our house, we can see that diarrhoea and a red rash on the bodies of the children have declined. We look healthier, this is the beginning of good nutrition."
The story recorded by Anoulack Bounsamai, AHAN Project Officer for World Vision in Ta Oi District, Saravane Province.