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Enhancing Water Accessibility and School Sanitation in Oudomxay

Source: Vientiane Times

A gender-responsive and hygiene improvement project was launched to support primary and secondary schools in Oudomxay province. Plan International and its partners will implement the project to ensure that all children have access to safe and hygienic toilets is set within 3 years.

Late last week – with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and Plan International Japan through Plan International Laos, the Ministry of Education and Sports agreed to launch the new project to support schoolgirls and boys in primary and secondary schools.

This project aims to improve female-friendly water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and sanitary and hygiene practices at 30 schools (24 primary and six lower secondary schools) in La and Namor district. It seeks to create a comfortable and safe school sanitation environment for all children, including menstruating girls, through improved access to water and sanitation facilities, including gender-segregated toilets.

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Ms. Carol Mortensen addressed that, “This project is essential because it will help improve children’s health and well-being in Oudomxay province. It will also help to break down gender stereotypes and ensure that all children have equal access to a safe and hygienic learning environment.

The importance of menstrual hygiene management for girls because menstruation is a natural bodily function, but it can be difficult for girls to manage if they do not have access to proper facilities and education. This project will ensure that girls in target schools have the resources to manage their periods safely and healthily.”

During its lifespan, the project staff will work with primary and lower secondary schoolchildren, teachers, principals and education staff to ensure separate toilet construction and rehabilitation and sanitation facilities for girls, boys and children with disabilities are completed and ready to be utilised; and to promote health practices at school, such as handwashing and menstrual hygiene management through 3-star WASH in School and Comprehensive Sexual Education.

In addition, the project will promote sanitary and hygiene practices in the community along with the project’s lifespan accordingly.

“The target areas are known as one of the poorest areas in Laos and poor access to water is a serious issue in both districts. This situation is also true in schools, where many children are facing infectious diseases and other threats to their health. In addition, it should not be overlooked that girls are particularly affected by this situation”, Ambassador of Japan the Lao PDR, Mr Kobayashi Kenichi said.

“We hope efforts made under this project contribute to improving the sanitation environment in primary and lower secondary schools in the target areas and that children will be able to achieve their learning outcomes in a gender-sensitive environment”, he added.

This project contributes to the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan has identified education as a critical priority to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and escape from the status of least developed countries in 2024.

Ms. Mortensen added, “We will ensure that all children and adolescents, regardless of gender, have access to a safe and hygienic learning environment.
The main deliveries of the project include providing separate toilets for boys and girls, promoting gender-sensitive health education, and encouraging girls to take a leadership role in awareness-raising activities with students.

It will make a real difference in the lives of children and adolescents, mainly girls in Oudomxay province, to reach their full potential. We will not stop until ‘Girls Get Equal.”

Plan International Laos commenced working in Oudomxay province in 2014 with Education and Public Health Programmes. Strong partnership with the Ministry of Education and Sports, Provincial Education and Sports department, and District Education and Sports Bureaus, we deliver quality education access for children and adolescents in Oudomxay province.

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We believe in the power and potential of every child.

But this is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion, and discrimination, and it’s the girls who are most affected.
Working together with children, young people, our supporters, and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children. We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood.

And we enable children to prepare for – and respond to – crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national, and global levels using our reach, experience, and knowledge.

We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 80 years and are now active in more than 75 countries.

Since 2007, Plan International Laos has been implementing health and education activities in the target health centres, villages and schools in Bokeo, Oudomxay, and Saravan provinces to increase children, in particular girls and young women’s voice, capacity, and leadership in social planning and decision-making in their priorities.

It also promotes rights and gender equality with village leaders, parents, and teachers as girls’ allies to support their participation, leadership and access to their full potential.