H.4    
 
Main water sources    
 

Water for drinking and cooking in the Lao PDR is generally available in sufficient quantities especially during the six months of the rainy season and the two months after. However, it is not necessarily of a quality acceptable for human consumption. Therefore the information on what sources of water a household uses represents an important information.

The Population and Housing Census of 2005 reported that 23.8% of households used open wells or boreholes, 22.0% used closed wells or boreholes, 20.5% percent used rivers, streams or dams, 12.9% used piped water and less than 1% used rain water or other sources. It is assumed that other sources include UV or ozone treated water sold at a reasonable price for a 20 litre bottle in most easily accessible districts and villages. In remote villages large Chinese style clay water containers are filled with rainwater, originally for drinking and cooking, but now used more for animals, for showers and for washing clothes. Generally speaking it can be said that about 35% of the population have access to safe drinking water, consisting of either water from pipes (12.9% of population) or protected wells or boreholes (22% of population). Yet, map H.4 reveals that this access is limited to a small part of the country.

It can be seen on Map H.4 that most provincial towns now have a water tower supplying houses in the city centre with treated piped water. Piped water is available in some parts of Vientiane Capital, Savannakhet, Saravane and Champasack, and in the large provincial towns in other provinces. However, only 12.9% of the population have access to this safe and labour saving source of water.

 In the east of the central region and in the south most households use water from rivers, streams, ponds or dams. In the north in the high mountains most of the households use water from streams or fresh water springs. This is particularly true in the case of the provinces of Phongsaly, Luangnamtha, Bokeo, Huaphanh, Luangprabang and Xaysomboune Special Zone. The use of closed wells or fresh water springs can be seen in the central region, in the south for example in Savannakhet province, and in the west of Saravane and Champasack provinces.  The use of closed wells or boreholes can be seen mostly in some areas of Xayaboury province, Vientiane province, Vientiane Capital, and the provinces of Khammuane and Savannakhet.

The significance of the information on the sources of water for drinking and cooking lies in the effects on human health. In principle 65% of people do not have access to clean, safe water. The need to boil water prior to human use is not as widespread as is desirable. Un-boiled water and insufficiently cooked foods are the main source of the intestinal infections, sickness and weight loss caused by parasites and the high child mortality rate in the Lao PDR. For the planners in a developing society it is urgent to strengthen the installation of local water treatment facilities for preventing infections with potentially fatal water-borne diseases.

 

 

 


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