Khamkeut District, in the central province of Borikhamxay, has ended open defecation in 20 villages.
The Provincial Health Department with UNICEF support is improving sanitation and hygiene in Borikhamxay through implementation of a community-based approach called Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
The approach allows communities to take action to become open defecation-free (ODF).
Poor sanitation is still a barrier to development due to its significant impact on health and education. The lack of basic sanitation affects children’s growth, in particular, stunting, which currently affects 36 percent of children under the age of five in Lao PDR.
Acute respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases � two of the main causes of child deaths � are also directly related to poor sanitation, unsafe water and poor hygiene behaviours.
The provincial effort to improve sanitation and hygiene intervention in Borikhamxay is supported by the Central Namsaat and UNICEF.
Khamkeut is one of the districts receiving support to scale up sanitation and hygiene. Borikhamxay is making progress towards achieving its sanitation targets through the district-wide approach.
In November 2016, the province, with UNICEF’s support, announced two districts Open Defecation-Free � Paksan and Thaphabath.
Khamkeut is striving to become the third district in Borikhamxay to reach this status. The District Health Office has joined forces with partners from the Ministry of Education and Sports, the Lao Women’s Union, the Lao Youth Union and the Lao Front for National Construction to improve access to sanitation for all.
Local authorities and village chiefs are also investing in community mobilization by raising awareness of the risk of diseases due to unhygienic defecation practices. In many villages, communities are helping each other to find solutions to ensure no households are left without basic sanitation, resulting in 20 villages achieving open defecation-free status.
On April 5, more than one hundred people gathered at the Khamkeut Administration Office to declare and celebrate this achievement in an event chaired by the District vice Governor, Mr. Khamphat Soulikhan.
Deputy Director of Borikhamxay Provincial Health Department, Dr Bounseng Akkhavong, and UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Mr Bishnu Timilsina also attended the ceremony.
Village heads from all 61 villages in the district, including the remaining 41 villages yet to achieve open defecation-free status, were present.
Achieving ODF status in one third of the total number of villages is a great accomplishment, but more efforts are needed to ensure the government’s sanitation target is met.
Source: Lao News Agency