Ban Kongpathoumvanh Village in Xonnabouri district, Savannakhet province is declared a ‘Total Sanitation Village’. The declaration is endorsed by the Provincial Department of Public Health that conducted a field survey in 10 villages across three districts by Provincial Rural Development and Poverty Reduction Office.
“This is a meaningful milestone that also contributes to the achievement of national goals on water and sanitation and Millennium Development Goal 7,” says Dr Bounma Ketkesone, Head of the Provincial Department of Public Health in Savannakhet.
A village can gain the title of a ‘Total Sanitation Village’ when it is free from open defecation and effectively handles its waste. Extending the existing systems of the Lao government, the Total Sanitation Village tools and criteria were developed and endorsed by the Department of Public Health in Savannakhet province. These criteria are in alignment with the international standards of the ‘Model Healthy Village’ (see box).
‘Total Sanitation Village’ Criteria
1) More than 95% of households have access and use improved sanitation
2) 100% of households have improved drinking water storage.
3) Household-members drink only improved drinking water.
4) Households have a garbage bin and/or a garbage disposal.
5) Households have effective waste water drainage.
6) Households have moved livestock away from houses.
7) Household properties are fenced (if applicable).
Eight years ago, only 47% of households from the village had access to and used a clean toilet while the rest did what their parents and grandparents have done for generations: finding relief behind the nearest bush or tree. That changed after the local government implemented a new hygiene promotion approach of Community-Led Total Sanitation.
Now, 100% of households in the village do have toilets, beneficial for some 2,200 adults and children. Criteria were met thanks to an effective collaboration between inhabitants, the local and central government with additional technical support from SNV the Netherlands Development Organisation and International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC).
“Although Ban Kongpathoumvanh is declared a ‘Total Sanitation Village’, it can also lose this status,” says Mrs Phetmany Cheuasongkham, WASH Advisor for SNV in Lao PDR. “To ensure that inhabitants do not go back to old habits, monitoring is done every three months to see if faeces and waste are found around the village.”
Together with the title “Total Sanitation Village”, Ban Kongpathoumvanh Village also was rewarded three other titles; Model Culture Village, Model Youth Village and Lao Model Women Participation Village.