Background and Methodology
The purpose of the evaluation was to document and evaluate UNICEF country office progress on the prevention and mitigation of arsenic in drinking water in Myanmar, Lao PDR, Viet Nam and Cambodia. The methodology consisted of a desk review followed by country visits and a debriefing workshop based on which the final report was prepared.
Major Findings of the Evaluation
• Overall approximately 1.75 million people were found to be at risk of arsenic poisoning due to consuming water with arsenic levels above national standards.
• When compared to other countries, Myanmar achieved significantly more progress in the number of samples tested and development of a comprehensive database system;
• Cambodia was the only country to undertake blanket testing in all high risk villages;
• The four countries used different water quality parameters in addition to arsenic;
• A wide variety of field test kits with different sensitivities were used even within countries making it difficult to compare results with precision;
• Only Cambodia engaged in cross-checking of results at field level while Viet Nam and Myanmar sent samples to laboratories for cross referencing;
• There was no clear and concise arsenic mitigation communication strategy for any of the four countries;
• UNICEF Cambodia was the only office to complete a KAP survey specific to arsenic mitigation activities;
• All four countries initially focused on the negative health impacts associated with drinking arsenic contaminated water.
• Myanmar and Cambodia offered communities in the affected areas a variety of mitigation options for implementation including rain water harvesting, different filters including ceramic filters, deep and shallow tube wells and piped water systems;
• Cambodia was the only country to have implemented public-private partnerships in arsenic affected communities;
• There were no comprehensive and clear distribution guidelines for project subsidized mitigation options;
• While all four countries had developed national strategies these were only documented in Viet Nam and Cambodia;
• With the exception of Lao PDR, coordination among different stakeholders needs to be enhanced;
• While international NGOs are involved in implementation in each of the four countries, there were was no participation of local NGOs.
On aggregate the recommendations related to standardization of practices and procedures across the four countries building on best practices where available. These include expansion of testing; systematic use of cross-checking in the field and in the laboratory; use of standard test kits; conduct of arsenic mitigation specific KAP surveys; elaboration of national strategies and enhanced coordination among stakeholders.
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Water and Environmental Sanitation