Water brings joy in a new mother’s life.

UNICEF’s intervention in 2018 Flood affected communities enables children and family to have access to safe and regular water supply.

Bounleu Vongsavang
UNICEF Laos/2020/BVongsaVang

24 February 2020

Nong Boudhphansy cannot hide her happiness while working in her lush green garden full of organic vegetables, happiness she credits two things for: Firstly, just a month ago, the 20-year-old gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. Secondly her village has recently been connected to an uninterrupted water supply.

“Most of my time these days is spent on taking care of the baby and on household chores such as feeding the animals, gardening etc,” explains Nong. “My husband works in paddy fields as a farmer, and also as a labourer during the dry season to earn extra income” she adds.

Nong and her husband Khantahly Boudhphansy, live in Hinesombath, a village located three kilometres away from central Sanamxay District which is in Attapeu Province, one of the heavily affected provinces by the 2018 Floods in Lao PDR. According to the Post Disaster Needs Assessment, the July 2018 floods killed more than 50 people, over 50,000 people were displaced and over 600,000 more were affected across the country. The disaster also destroyed properties, farmlands and infrastructure, including homes, schools, hospitals, water supplies and health centres.

UNICEF Laos
The July 2018 Floods affected over half a million people in Lao PDR.

Access to water has always been scarce in Nong’s village. When she was growing up, she fetched water from the nearby river. Only about four years ago, borehole handpumps and wells were installed to lift the burden in her village.

“The borehole gave us better access to water, but we still had to spend over 40 minutes waiting in the queue for our turn,” says the new mother. 

Even the little respite that pumping water from the borehole gave disappeared when the floods completely crushed the handpumps. 

“Instead of earning in the field, most of my time and my husband’s disappeared, making the laborious commute to collect the water. On top of that, we didn’t even know if the water was safe to drink or not,” says Nong

UNICEF has been supporting the Government of Lao PDR since the initial days of the floods, moving from immediate response to recovery. To improve the water and sanitation condition of children and families living in Attapeu, UNICEF constructed water towers in two flood affected communities, Phonemany and Hinesombath. After consulting the community, UNICEF built the towers instead of borehole handpumps to provide connections to each household and to the school.

UNICEFLaos/2020/B.Vongsavang
Water towers constructed by UNICEF in Hinesombath village in Sanmxay District of Attapeu province.

 

 

 

 

 

I remember being extremely happy when my husband told me the news about the construction of water towers last October.

She is sure the water supply will improve the situation of her community as it directly benefits 705 people, including 354 women in 140 houses.

To ensure long term sustainability of the project, UNICEF organized hygiene awareness campaigns and also provided training on basic plumbing for members of the community. Water Management Groups were also formed in each community, to establish a general maintenance budget by collecting small monthly fee from each resident.

UNICEF Laos/2020/BVongsaVang
20-year-old Nong uses excess water in her vegetable garden.
UNICEF Laos/2020/BVongsaVang
Nong uses water to maintain cleanliness and hygiene.

“This has lifted a heavy burden off my shoulders. I don’t compromise on the hygiene of my baby, now I am able to give him a bath twice, or sometimes even three times a day.”

Nong now has an uninterrupted water supply at her doorstep. Her organic garden is also flourishing with new vegetables which the family consumes, watered from her new supply. In fact, she even manages to sell some of them in the market, thereby supplementing the household income.