VIENTIANE AUTHORITIES are planning to improve the protection of the water environment as the Laotian capital aims to be a model Asean clean city within 14 years.

The clean city initiative will include drawing up a master plan for the protection of the urban water environment along with educating people about the improvements.

While Vientiane has improved its drainage network, the water quality in drainage canals and marshes has become worse, an official said.

Xaysettha district Deputy Governor, Phoutthaphone Khotpanya, spoke to the Vientiane Times during a canal cleaning activity in Phonthan village last week.

He said the Vientiane authorities had selected Xaysettha to be a model district in the future clean city, with the clearing of drainage canals and education of people about the dangers of wastewater being top priorities for environmental protection.

“The authorities are also speeding up the amendment of regulations which will be the basis for a manual on wastewater management in Vientiane,” he added.

Most of the wastewater produced in the city by factories, hotels, hospitals, restaurants and government offices is not treated before being discharged into the drainage system, he added.

Vientiane Public Works and Transport Department Deputy Head, Bounchanh Keosithamma, said the initiative was part of the department’s Project for Urban Water Environment Improvement in Vientiane in 2014 which was supported by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The project aims to strengthen the institutional framework and organisation of wastewater treatment in Vientiane through a participatory approach.

He said the project has trained facilitators and resource personnel in environmental education and run campaigns on load reduction from wastewater and regular cleaning of canals by communities and the Vientiane Urban Development and Administration Authority.

Another problem is that of illegal dumping, with many residents living near canals and marshes dumping plastic and household garbage around the shores of large ponds, instead of disposing of it in a more responsible way.

In Laos, less attention has been paid to the sanitation sector than others. Therefore, this project can be treated as a milestone, both for the urban sanitation sector and in terms of raising issues concerning urban sanitation.

According to 2012 statistics, Vientiane has about 800,000 residents. Although the city has received support from numerous development partners for drainage improvement since 1990, sewage has increased in water channels and marshes due to the increased discharge of waste following on economic and population growth.

Source: Nation Multimedia. Date: April 10, 2016

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/business/EconomyAndTourism/30283366