In November 2015, Plan International Laos started working in Vangtang Village to help community members find a sustainable, safe water source so they could stop using the polluted Beng River.
Vangtang was not originally among Plan International’s target communities for its Public Health Programme, but villagers and district health partners repeatedly requested support to rehabilitate and improve their water system.
Cha Moua, Plan International’s Public Health Coordinator in Houn District, says, “After receiving request letters from villagers, Plan International and the District Health Office visited the community and conducted a survey to determine the needs of this village. We found that there were several reasons to help them.”
Clean water for communities
Although the Government of Lao provided Vangtang Village with a water system more than a decade ago, the water supply is now insufficient as the village population has increased. People began to reluctantly rely more heavily on the Beng River for their water needs.
We suffered using the unsafe water from Beng River
“My husband and I have skin rashes from bathing in Beng River for the past 4 years," says Lee, 20. "I suspect that the river contains chemical contamination from nearby banana and watermelon plantations but we didn’t have choice.”
Although community members physically experienced the Being River’s contamination, they continued to use its water for bathing as well as washing their clothes and dishes. However, they walked 30 minutes to collect water from the Nam Tang River for cooking and drinking, which is believed to be much safer to consume.
In April 2016, Plan international Laos completed the construction of a water system in Vangtang Village. Nine new taps have been installed and 4 more have been repaired. People living in Vangtang Village now have enough safe water to use for drinking, cooking and bathing.
Reduced burden on girls
Mone, a 9 year-old schoolgirl, says, “It is great for us. We don’t have to fetch water for the school toilets anymore, which are located on the top of the hill. Next to my house, there is now a tap that I can easily get the water from for my own toilet at home.”
Lee says, “I am so happy that we don’t need to use the water from Beng River, and that we don’t have to risk our health by using unsafe water anymore.”
After assembling and training a village water management committee who will be responsible for maintaining and sustaining the whole water system for the community, Plan International Laos and Oudomxay Provincial and District Health Departments officially handed over the water system to Vangtang Village leaders on 27 May 2016.