From 7th to 8th November 2016, members of the local Luang Prabang UDAA, members of DHUP as well as BORDA Laos staff gladly welcomed FSM toolbox trainers from AIT, Dr. Phrompol Chantrasakdakul (Project Engineer), Mrs. Nitasha Arora (Program Officer), and Ms. Su Su Myat (Program Officer), in Luang Prabang. The AIT, which is based in Bangkok, is a much appreciated and competent partner of BORDA SEA in their aim to improve the sanitation and hygiene standards in South East Asia. In fact, in cooperation with many regional and global organizations, an international and interdisciplinary research team from AIT, led by Dr. Thammarat Koottatep, developed the FSM toolbox (under Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Fund), that was introduced to the participants of the training. The tools gathered in this online accessible toolbox were designed to accelerate the effective implementation of FSM practices in order to optimize the performance of FSM projects.
During the two-day training, Dr. Chantrasakdakul, Mrs. Arora, and Ms. Myat talked about the importance and necessity of FSM in general and the FSM situation in the city of Luang Prabang in particular. The training participants did not only listen to very informative presentations, but were also encouraged to participate in open discussions as well as in group work. In this way, members of UDAA, DHUP and BORDA Laos staff were able to exchange their knowledge and insights about the topic. The group work included an open evaluation of the single components of the FSM service chain in Luang Prabang as well as a discussion about the important steps of the whole FSM project process.
Furthermore, one of the tools from the FSM toolbox, the Situational Assessment Tool (SAT), was intensely discussed during the training session. The SAT’s main objective is to evaluate the level of each FSM service chain component (containment, emptying, transport, treatment, reuse/disposal). The evaluation results from data requirements that are fulfilled by answering questions in regard of the current and the prospected FSM situation in Luang Prabang. Each question in that tool was discussed to create a common understanding of the single questions asked in the tool. The training and use of the SAT was very useful to find out that the different components of the FSM service chain are at very different levels in Luang Prabang. Especially, the component of treatment of faecal sludge in Luang Prabang still has a great potential of improvement. Beside the SAT, the participants expressed interest in the Technical Tool and Finance Tool that were also introduced during the training.
Moreover, the training included a field trip to the Luang Prabang dumpsite. At the dumpsite, all participants were able to see how the dumped faecal sludge is laid out on a big surface area to be dried by the sun. Later on, it is then sold to local farmers as a natural fertilizer without being treated. Since the importance of the proper faecal sludge treatment and its benefits on human health and environmental protection were intensely discussed during the training, UDDA staff and training participants showed much interest and a high willingness to continue working on the improvement of FSM in Luang Prabang.
Additionally, Mr. Somdy Phonesavath, the Vice President of UDAA, honored Mr. Bounchan Khamphilayvong (Project Coordinator, BORDA Laos), Mr. Monivanh Boulom (Project Officer, BORDA Laos), and Mr. Vansoukkhy Keosengsay (Community Facilitator, BORDA Laos) as well as members of DHUP and members of UDAA with an official governmental award of appreciation for their good work and their great efforts in advancing a study regarding environmental management in Luang Prabang.
In conclusion, the training in Luang Prabang was very successful. Due to the many discussions, the importance and necessity of FSM was dawn to all participants’ awareness. Equally important was the knowledge transfer and exchange by bringing together members of UDAA, DHUP, BORDA Laos and AIT. In this matter, we would like to thank all participants of the training for their efforts in improving FSM in Luang Prabang and we are looking forward to our cooperation with and support of FSM toolbox team.