Three villages in Borikhamxay province – Houayhai, Tapae and Pameuang in Pakkading, Borikhan and Viengthong districts – have now been officially announced as open- defecation free.
The three villages, which have a combined household count of more than 2,100, gained the open defecation-free status after UNICEF had worked with the Health Department and Lao Women’s Union (LWU) in the province to support a district wide approach to stop open defecation through Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS).
CLTS is an approach which mobilises communities to put an end to open defecation and recognizes that merely providing toilets does not guarantee their use, nor results in improved basic sanitation and hygiene.
The lead partners began mobilising the communities of the 6 targeted villages in late December 2015, and by mid- year this year have the three villages as the first ready to be declared open-defecation free in the districts. “Achieving open defecation free status is a great accomplishment for the province as the joint effort is delivering positive results,” reads a press release from UNICEF sent to Vientiane Times yesterday.
LWU President Dr Inlavanh Keobounphanh was also present to acknowledge the achievement of the first village to be declared open- defecation free in Viengthong district.
“I want to emphasise the importance of access to and use of improved latrines. This helps improve the overall health of the community by reducing morbidity, especially diarrhoea, which impacts most adversely on children’s nutrition” she said.
Momentum has been gained as the provincial and district multi-sectoral partners joined forces to stop open- defecation. The provincial Health Department is leading the team in Pakkading and Borikhan districts, while the LWU is striding forward in Viengthong district.
Support in Borikhamxay province is also aimed at increasing provincial and national partner’s capacity to scale up rural sanitation and hygiene promotion.
With the help of local authorities the intervention is expanding to more villages in the three districts. UNICEF is also extending its support to include Khamkeuth, Pakxan and Thaphabath districts.
Poor sanitation remains one of the biggest barriers to development because of its impact on health and education in particular. Lack of basic sanitation disproportionately affects children. Two of the main causes of child deaths – acute respiratory infection and diarrheal diseases – are linked to poor water, hygiene, and sanitation.
UNICEF Lao PDR Representative Hongwei Gao said “The use of toilets is vital to the health and nutritional status of children.”
Using toilets contributes to a clean community and the good health of community members, in particular children.
“Open-defecation leads to diarrhea and contributes to under nutrition and stunting.” Ms Gao added.
Source: Vientiane Times