Savannakhet advances its commitment to sanitation and hygiene

Group photo of event

On 18 October 2019, Dr Bongsouvanh Phanthavong, Head of Savannakhet’s Provincial Health Department and Allert van den Ham, SNV’s Country Director in Lao PDR, met for the official signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a rural sanitation and hygiene project in Savannakhet.

This partnership reflects a joint commitment by the provincial leadership of Savannakhet and SNV to increase access to basic sanitation facilities for at least 200,000 people in the districts of Atsaphone, Champion and Phalanxay. It is part of the partnership’s vision to develop a scalable rural sanitation programme; first benefiting Savannakhet – the largest province in Lao PDR.

MoU signing by SNV and Provincial Health Department representatives

MoU signing by SNV and Provincial Health Department representatives

The SNV project is supported by Water for Women Fund, the Australian Government’s flagship WASH programme that places gender equality and social inclusion at the centre of WASH progress. Said Australian Ambassador, Jean-Bernard Carrasco:

“Gender equality and inclusion are central to improving water, sanitation and hygiene. Actively involving all people (women, men, people with disability) within communities does not only bring increased dignity, self-reliance and social benefits for communities, it can also contribute to poverty reduction and economic development.”

Until 2022, the partnership will deploy the know-how and tools to improve the performance of rural sanitation programming in the three districts of Savannakhet. It will apply SNV’s Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) rural sanitation product to strengthen the capacity of government, private sector and civil society’s role to advance inclusive and equitable programming. Expressing his excitement over the partnership’s goals, Dr Bongsouvanh Phanthavong, Head of the Savannakhet Provincial Health Department said that he looks forward to the emergence of a holistic model that will create the multi-stakeholder connections needed to accelerate concerted action.

During the signing ceremony, Mr Thonekeo Phoutthakaiyalath, Vice Governor of Savannakhet applauded the project’s complementarity with Lao PDR’s 2025 open-defecation-free ambitions. Also noting that efforts have been made to fit the project’s goals and work within the government’s existing structures, the Vice Governor encouraged all provincial and district officials and staff to provide the highest level of coordination and cooperation to make the project a success, and a model for area-wide roll out.

For Dr Allert van den Ham, Country Director of SNV in Lao PDR, “the hard work starts from tomorrow.”  He added:

“(SNV) looks forward to contributing to an improved quality of life for all 200,000 residents in the three districts: for men and women, for elderly, for people living with disabilities, for people living in poverty, and for people from different ethnic groups. For this ambition to be realised, we need the continued support and strong commitment of the government to translate the project’s goals into a reality.”

On behalf of SNV, Dr van den Ham expressed his appreciation to the Savanakkhet Provincial Health Department, and to Namsaat for their continued partnership and hosting of SNV’s project office in the province.


About this announcement: This announcement is based on a press release developed by the SNV team in Lao PDR, with representatives from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in the country. For more information on the announcement and SNV’s rural sanitation work in Lao PDR, contact Le Thi Quy Huong, WASH Sector Leader of SNV in Lao PDR, lhuong@snv.org

About SNV’s partnership with the Savannakhet province: For at least a decade, sanitation and hygiene have featured high on the development agenda of Savannakhet province. Between 2009 and 2010, the province was part of a 5-country SNV project – making Lao PDR one of the first country adopters and partners of SNV’s Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) rural sanitation approach. Since then, SSH4A has been successfully scaled up to 160 districts, across 18 countries in Asia and Africa.

This new partnership with the Government of Australia builds on the foundation of the earlier rural sanitation project. It is a bid to take the province to higher levels of sanitary conditions. It is part of a three-country Water for Women Fund project (Lao PDR, Bhutan and Nepal) that is being coordinated by Gabrielle Halcrow, Multi-country project manager. For more information, contact: ghalcrow@snv.org