Japan, which has one of the world’s highest rates of public water supply coverage, along with good reliability, has been supporting the development of waterworks in Laos.
Laos has been developing dramatically, with an estimated average economic growth rate of 7.67 percent over the past five years.
But currently only about 20 percent of the population have access to safe piped water and in rural areas people depend on water from wells some of which may not be safe, according to the Japanese government’s 2016 report on ‘Helping to Build Asia’s Infrastructure’ that was delivered at the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits from September 6-8 in Vientiane. One example of the initiative is the construction of a water treatment plant in Thakhaek district, Khammuan province, completed in March this year with grant aid under Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme, the report noted.
In addition to the financial assistance, Japan has for many years been providing assistance in close cooperation with Japanese local authorities that handle the supply of public water in Japan.
The report noted that the most active of such efforts currently underway is called MaWaSU. Launched in 2012 the project aims to provide operational support to all 18 provincial Water Supply State Enterprises (WSSEs) in Laos.
To accomplish this in five years, the project chose three of the WSSEs to become mentors for the remaining WSSEs.
The project’s full English title is “Capacity Development Project for Improvement of Management Ability of Water Supply Authorities” while the short name derives from the Japanese verb ‘mawasu’, meaning ‘cycle’ or ‘circulate’.
The report noted this bilingual pair of names refers to the project’s aim of enhancing the operational management capacity of WSSEs and implementing the Plan-Do- Check-Act cycle.
Mr Masahiro Shimomura, serving as a long-term expert advisor for the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Laos, explained the distinctive approach taken under this project. “Unlike a project where the donor country simply builds waterworks infrastructure, MaWaSU focuses activities aimed at autonomous development by local authorities five to ten years in the future.”
Mr. Shimomura had local waterworks employees draw up their own operational manual based on advice from the Japanese team.
Putting it together themselves made them think concretely about future operations and maintenance management, he said.
“After the waterworks network is constructed with technical and financial assistance from the outside, it’s important for them to develop it at their own initiative. And for this purpose it’s necessary for a sense of self-reliance to take root,” he added.
Economic considerations are also a crucial part of waterworks management. Mr. Shimomura offered advice on the importance of finding leaks and introduced Japan’s water supply volume analysis and other technology.
He conveyed the mind-set required to take proper advantage of technology and systems using a grassroots approach tailored to those on the receiving side.
In areas where tap water has become available, women and children have been freed from the task of drawing water from wells, and living conditions have improved.
Japanese waterworks experts are continuing to work with pride to increase the coverage of the water supply system in Laos and elsewhere, seeking to help create a world where safe tap water is a matter of course, the report noted.
Source: Vientiane Times