16 December 2019
Delivering for every child in Lao PDR since 1991
Bandith is always a smiling, calm yet energetic presence in the UNICEF Laos office. He can often be seen inviting colleagues to games and exercises after work, and his sporting prowess has helped win many championships with team UNICEF in various sporting events.
Now, I play football twice a week, and ping pong after work. We've just got a new ping pong table in the office — a better environment for us to enjoy sports after work!
As a water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) specialist, Bandith spends a lot time in the office coordinating our work in the field. “I work a lot in the office and I’m mainly responsible for managing the facilities and equipment used in our projects and working with our counterparts,” he said.
“For example, there are projects such as the construction of Gravity fed System (GFS), water towers, enhancing emergency response, improving water and toilets in schools—‘Schools WASH’, health center dispensary, etc.”
Fulfillments and Challenges
In almost thirty years of work, there have been many highlights that one will never forget, says Bandith.
“My most impressive and meaningful moment to work for UNICEF is when I see children in rural areas provided with water with our support. That’s when I feel most satisfied about my work.”
Bandith recalled that one of his most challenging experiences in the field was the construction of the Gravity Fed System (GFS) in northern provinces of the country. These systems use gravity to bring water from spring water source to communities in hard-to-reach areas or drilling borehole in flat land areas of the middle and southern part.
“UNICEF has been supporting this programme since 1996 and this is part of a sustainable plan. We use four to five thousand-meter-long black pipes and build public water points to bring water to people living or working in the mountains.”
“It took a whole month to complete the project,” recalls Bandith. “The construction context was not easy for us considering the transportation of materials and the workload of community labors. We need to make sure that the plan works, water technicians supervise the construction and the local community is aligned with us and participation.”
In programmes like this, it’s important to work hand-in-hand with the local communities to build, construct and maintain the systems to ensure they can last for generations. Instead of full dependence on outside aid, local communities will learn how to build the system for themselves.
Teaching local people how to develop is always more sustainable than building something for them. “Mobilizing local community is essential for enhancing their ownership of the community,” said Bandith.
Bandith’s first acquaintance with UNICEF was when UNICEF needed a consultant to develop technical manuals/handbooks of different types water supply. He got on board with his knowledge and expertise, and thus started this almost thirty-year experience.
As a WASH Officer, he had many opportunities to visit villages and see the wellbeing of children.
“In UNICEF, we have programmes stretching out into many communities and provinces,” says Bandith.
“We get to really see the situations of children and figure out some solutions for them.”
“There will always be programmes like “WASH in Schools” or GFS in need of advice and help from professional officers like me.”
Bandith, smiling again, says he has always been happy to help in the past, and will always be happy to help deliver for every child in the future.
Story by Yinuo Huang
For more information about our WASH programme, visit www.unicef.org/laos/wash