If the national policy and strategy on sanitation are fully implemented, Laos can declare itself to be free of open defecation in 2025. It will become a ‘sanitation’ country by 2030.
Vientiane Times reports that Minister of Health, Dr. Bounfeng Phoummalaysith said at a meeting last week on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) that figures recorded in 2021-2022 showed that 91.5 percent of the population had access to clean water and 82 percent used hygienic latrines.
According to the information provided at the meeting, about 5,679 villages in 37 districts of Bolikhamxay Province and Vientiane Capital have been announced open defecation-free.
“Even though figures on the use of clean water and latrines are on the rise, it is a cumulative number. Some water systems and latrines are damaged, drinking water and clean water use is inadequate, and latrines are often not used in rural areas,” Dr. Bounfeng said.
He admitted that a lot of people residing in rural areas do not understand the importance of using clean water, latrines and soap. In general, good hygiene is not common practice which could lead to ailments like diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis A, polio and parasitic infections. Poor sanitation also affects the health and development of children.
The meeting proposed that one of the goals of the 2019-2030 national policy for water supply, sanitation, and hygiene is for the entire nation to be free of open defecation by 2025 and to have access to sanitation by 2030.
Vientiane capital is the first capital city in ASEAN region to receive the Open Defecation Free status. It is also the second province of Laos to reach this milestone after Bolikhamxay Province was able to do away with the practice in 2020.