On 17 September 2014, SNV's Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) Sector Leader for Lao PDR, Thea Bongertman presented at the 37th Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC) International Conference in Vietnam, where she shared the programme design and initial progress of the Functionality of Rural Water Supply Services (FRWS) programme underway in Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR.
The highly respected platform welcomed WASH practitioners from around the world and from all levels of water and sanitation innovation in developing countries. As the world's leading education and research institute for developing knowledge and capacity in water and sanitation, WEDC seeks to use the conference as a comprehensive learning event bringing together professionals from across the WASH sector. This collaboration and learning sharing is especially important as new policies and targets are being formed to replace the Millennium Development Goals that include universal access to water and sanitation services by 2030.
Ms. Bongertman presented on the methodology used and recommendations from the recent Baseline Survey for SNV Laos' FRWS Programme in Savannakhet province. The programme identified water supply service levels of the poorest quintile in rural Laos, making reccomendations on how best to apply these learnings for programme monitoring and evaluation going forward.
“This conference was a great opportunity to meet other water, sanitation and hygiene practitioners and researchers for learning in the sector in general," Ms. Bongertman said. "We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to that by sharing the work on our own FRWS programme in an effort to further develop SNV Laos’ WASH work as well as and expand innovations in the sector.”
The three-day conference was followed by capacity development workshops on hot topics in the sector, ranging from ‘Understanding the linkages between rural sanitation and stunting’, to "Improving equity and inclusion in WASH", to field trips to water treatment and wastewater treatment plants. The capacity development workshops were proposed and developed by respected and well-known WASH stakeholders (WSP, UNICEF, UNESCO-IHE, INGOs) in collaboration with WEDC and the National University of Civil Engineering, Vietnam.