Foreign Affairs

EU-sponsored Clean Water & Sanitation Project-Scaling-Up Nutrition and WASH Infrastructure Project

Initiated in June 2018, the Scaling-Up Nutrition and WASH Infrastructure Project (SUNWIP) is an EU-financed project implemented through the German state-owned Development Bank (KfW) and the Lao government.

It is a € 16.95 million effort to improve access to clean water in Savannakhet and Khammuan provinces in recognition of the crucial role that clean water resources and adequate sanitation play in the health and livelihood of the populations of developing countries such as the Lao PDR.

Of the total funding aforementioned, EUR15 million is granted by the European Union through KfW, and EUR 1.95 million is contributed by the Government of the Lao PDR and implemented by the Ministry of Public Works and Transport (MWPT) as the executing agency on behalf of the donors and the government.

Aside from KfW and MPWT, SUNWIP is being implemented in collaboration with the National Nutrition Committee Secretariat, and the Department of Hygiene and Health Promotion of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and an international implementation consultant as well as other relevant partners. SUNWIP will contribute to the Lao PDR’s achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (“SDG”) number 2 “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” and SDG number 6 “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. It also directly contributes to the implementation of some of the Priority Interventions of the National Nutrition Strategy to 2025 and Plan of Action 2016-2020 (NNSPA). This year, SUNWIP’s annual meeting was held in Vientiane and was chaired by Mr. Somphong Sitthivong, Director of Department of Water Supply, MPWT and co-chaired by Ms. Baiba Zarina, First Secretary of the EU Delegationand Mr. Jan Weigelmann, Director of KfW Office, Vientiane.

Approximately50 participants attended representing government partners from Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Health, line ministries, provincial and district authorities as well as the European Union, and KfW. With regard to the progress made to date, a total of 14 contracts have been signed to construct 30 water supply systems in urban and peri-urban areas in six districts, namely Nong, Atsaphone, Xepon and Outhoumphone in Savannakhet province, and Hinboun and Nhommalath in Khammuan province. SUNWIP aims to improve access to clean water for up to 90,000 villagers in 62 villages in the two provinces.

The construction thus far is reported as 33% complete without considering Xeno area in Savannakhet as its construction has not started yet (26% completion rate if Xeno is included).

In addition to the physical infrastructure, the Project fosters a better-informed use of clean water and improved hygiene practices as well as knowledge at the community level to mitigate the nutritional impact of water-borne disease, thus accelerating nutritional gains and reducing the number of children suffering the negative and devastating consequences of malnutrition, notably infantile stunting. This is achieved through the design and implementation of an awareness campaign, mixing a wide-range of interventions (edutainment shows on hygiene, support to teachers in teaching hygiene practices to schools students, distribution of hygiene kits to school students, information towards households in peri-urban areas on proper latrine construction, etc.).

This intervention contributes to the improvement of the nutritional status of the targeted provinces under the EU Nutrition Programme. The project will also ensure that the installed water infrastructure will be properly operated and maintained.

This will be achieved through the provision of trainings to the future operators, throughout the construction period and the commissioning of the facilities: the training plan has been presented and discussed in the meeting. Several types of technical trainings are scheduled to be carried out in the up-coming year.

The meeting strongly emphasized the importance of sustainable Operation and Maintenance (O&M) managed by provincial Nam Papa. The strong and continuous support of the central and local governments is needed to enhance the O&M of the new water supply systems.

Going forward and heading towards the completion of the project, next year’s implementation plan was also discussed with key agenda items including the budget planning and the consideration of the potential project prolongation due to delays from several disruptions during 2020, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic and excessive floods in October 2020.

Source: Lao News Agency