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Nam Ton Watershed

Knowledge Platform

Electricity and Communication

The village along the Mekong River first reach the rural electrification in 1997. At the present, all villages of the Nam Ton watershed in Santhong District have been electrified, except some minority enclaves on outskirts of larger villages. However, four villages in Hin Heup District had not yet be electrified. The first telephone network covered all villages in lower and middle reaches of the watershed, was served by ETL. There are some large areas in Hin Heup District have not yet in the network coverage.

Road network

In the past, the Nam Ton mainstream has been used to ship bamboo to Mekong River during rainy season, then replace by overland transport. The Nam Ton watershed benefits from a well-development road network project. In recent years, many roads are undergone several reconstruction. Main access road to lower portion of the Nam Ton watershed is provided by a public all weather roads (about 55km from Vientiane to Ban Nasa along Mekong River). Some sections of the secondary road from main road at Ban Pakton, continuing in a circuit which passes through Ban Phialat, Sangthong District center, and rejoins the Mekong river road at Ban Kokhe. This road has a long spur which runs northward to Hin Heup District. Both spur and circuit which runs through Phialat. In rainy season, some sections of the roads are flooded for several hours or days and sometime impassable. The road No. 12 North is the shortest way from main road to middle reach of watershed is about 50km, and then follows the earth road for about 20km through the Phou Phanang mountain. The reliable road to the upper reach area of watershed is to follow the paved road No. 13 North about 100km to Huai Leuth village, Hin Heup District. The internal road network is in poor condition, especially in upper reach area. However, there are plan for the development of these internal road network. The plan has been submitted to the Province and request funding from government and CIDA.

Health and sanitation

Good latrine was found generally throughout the Nam Ton Watershed. The family which lack latrines are typically families which have recently moved in this area or moved out from their parents’ house. There are about 70 families on the outskirt of Ban Xo who lack latrines. This enclave was resettled by district authorities in 2008 and is not yet covered by latrines or wells. This resulted more than 20 cases of severe diarrhea amongst children due to insufficient clean water sources. It is important to note that the needs of latrines related to the availability of clean water resource.  When an increasing in number of latrines is required, greater attention must be brought to prevent contamination of drinking water resources. The country wide studies have indicated that 60% of wells in Laos are contaminated by unsuitable human disposal.

The primary district hospital comprises 6 beds. There are in total 39 staff member holding various medical degrees. The hospital can perform minor surgeries, carry out triage and emergency services and is equipped with dental and obstetrics services. The table below shows the data of medical healthcare facilities and service existing in the Nam Ton Watershed. The simple lab facilities were set up and can perform the sputum analysis for tuberculosis, blood samples and fecal samples for parasitic infection. In general, the hospital is rudimentary service. However many staffs have been trained for developing skills and service. Hospital outreach activities have been significantly supported bythe work of the Sangthong Primary Health Care Project. The primary healthcare centre or dispensary is for every village cluster, where only minor illness can be treated. For people with severe illness should be send to the district hospital or to the hospital in Vientiane capital for treatment.

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Each village have one or two village healthcare volunteers (VHV) and one traditional birth attendant (TBA). These two types of healthcare volunteers are given practical trainings quarterly in primary health care service. The fund of 150,000 to 500,000 kip was provided to VHV and TBA to operate the healthcare service in the village. The role of HVH is also to assist the district in disease prevention outreach and child nutrition and growth monitoring programmes, malaria and diarrhoea prevention campaigns. The VHVs are allowed to sell medicine to villagers with the marginal profit. This programme hasbeen in operation since 2002 with financial support from projects like CIDSE, Frenchgovernment, and also from government funds. However, only four villages out of nine have such a programme in the upper part of the Nam Ton watershed. The great efforts made for improving health care and sanitation in this area is still affected by many diseases. The common diseases found are respiratory, diarrhoea and malaria. The most serious illness if respiratory disease. The precise data of respiratory disease is unknown. In the period of 1995 – 2000, diarrhoea claimed more than 100 lives and this is the problem until the present in communities which lack clean water and latrine availability. There were 28 cases of severe child diarrhoea amongst new families in Ban Xo found during the survey 2008. It is anticipate that access to clean water and latrine could reduce this diarrhoea problem.