At a glance: Lao People's Democratic Republic

Children create giant mural to mark World Water Day in Laos

© UNICEF/Laos 2009/Holmes
A group of Lao primary school children working on the Mekong River mural.

By Tom Winkler

VIENTIANE, Lao People's Democratic Republic, 25 March 2009 – As part of international celebrations for World Water Day 2009, Laotian school children joined forces to create a huge mural. Working under the hot sun, the children painted their own impressions and images of life along the Mekong River – the most important shared water resource for six countries in Southeast Asia.

The 8 by 15 metre mural was crafted in a park close to the celebrated Patouxay Arch in central Vientiane.

"I'm really happy I can be here with many friends and drawing pictures of people, nature and animals on the Mekong," said 12-year-old Sithida.

A collaborative effort

Activities were coordinated by the Laos Youth Union, a government agency through which UNICEF supports different projects in the country. Youth participation is an integral component of UNICEF's Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) programme, supporting initiatives in Laos' poorest rural districts.

© UNICEF/Laos 2009/Holmes
A bird's-eye view of the Mekong River mural from the top of the Patouxay monument.

Through their collaborative effort, the young artists created examples of how families and communities can protect the water sources they depend on. The mural reflected the theme of World Water Day 2009, 'Shared Waters, Shared Opportunities'.

Creating awareness through art

The Mekong's significance as a source of clean water to those living throughout its catchment area was underscored by Vice Governor of Vientiane Somdy Nadtavong.

"It is important to raise the awareness of children and communities in general about the use and sustainable management of water," said Mr. Nadtavong.

The open-air painting event was inaugurated by Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavath, and attended by senior officials from a number of government bodies.

UNICEF Representative to Laos Laila Ismail-Khan, spoke on behalf of the United Nations.

"When we talk about the need for people and nations to share and cooperate in their use of water resources, it is future generations that have the most at stake," said Ms. Ismail-Khan.



New enhanced search