The COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing impact of climate change have demonstrated more than ever the true value of water. Without it, families cannot protect themselves from the spread of disease or grow nutritious crops to feed their children, communities become vulnerable to climate shocks and lives and livelihoods are lost. But across the world, one in ten people do not have access to clean water.
Landmines and explosives left behind by conflict can cut off entire communities from vital water supplies, or make it impossible for new infrastructure to be built to improve existing reserves.
Laos is the ‘most bombed country’ in the world per capita, as a result of heavy aerial attacks in the 60s and 70s during the Vietnam War. HALO has been working here since 2011, focused in Savannaket Province, where families are almost entirely dependent on growing rice to survive and 70 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line.
To ensure more families have access to clean water, HALO Laos has been working in partnership with World Vision and the EU funded SUNWIP and AHAN Projects, making land safe to allow water pumps and boreholes to be installed.
Micah Olad, Programme Director of the AHAN Partnership for Improved Nutrition for World Vision Laos
Work to clear land in Phine District by HALO teams—funded by the US Department of State, Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement (PM/WRA)—has allowed World Vision to safely construct borehole pumps in the villages of Kaenglathaeng, Kayong and Salaeneua. This has brought clean and safe water to over 1,100 people. The project is focused on improving agriculture and nutrition. Consistent water supplies to irrigate crops means families can grow sufficient and more diverse food year round.
In Nong District, by making land safe, HALO's PM/WRA funded teams have enabled World Vision to construct boreholes and solar powered water systems for six villages, supporting over 2,500 people. Through the provision of clean water, the project ensures children and their care-givers have better access to water supplies and hygiene and sanitation for mother and child healthcare is improved.
“It gives us water every time we want until evening. It is used for bathing, watering the vegetables, drinking for both ourselves and and our animals.”
HALO has also provided support to the EU funded SUNWIP project. This is focused on the larger urban area of Nongvilai and semi urban areas such as Sagi-Gnai village. The work by HALO's teams—funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)—to clear unexploded items has allowed the safe installation of a water supply system. Boreholes, constructed on HALO cleared ground, will feed elevated tanks which, through a gravity distribution network, will supply households with water.