Storing rainwater in rural Laos

By Bouakham Douangpanya, Communications Manager, ChildFund Laos
Photo: Nine-year-old Oudai is glad to have rainwater jars at her school in rural Laos

Photo: Nine-year-old Oudai is glad to have rainwater jars at her school in rural Laos

In Nonghet district in northern Laos, our Global Community Youth Ambassadors have been hard at work investigating possible solutions to one of the biggest issues facing their community: year-round access to safe water.

After seeking input and advice from other ChildFund supporters, the Youth Ambassadors have recently completed the pilot of a new, low-cost method to not only collect water, but store it and have it accessible during the dry seasons.

The answer? Rainwater jars.

These are not your average garden variety, but large cement vessels with a capacity of 2,000 litres. Connected to the roof, these jars collect fresh rainwater which can be used for drinking and cooking. The Youth Ambassadors undertook training in two parts – both theory and practice – to build the rainwater jars themselves.

Children and their families can now access a reliable water source from two rainwater jars at a village primary school, where nine-year-old Oudai is a student. Providing enough water for drinking purposes means children no longer need to carry daily supplies from home, which was particularly heavy work for younger children.

The jars also make it easy for the school’s sanitation facilities to be kept spick and span. Oudai says: “I feel very happy. The jars are not only beautiful, but they are also very useful.

“The terrible smell from the toilet is getting better. And we have a lot of water for cleaning the floor, windows, benches, black board and other learning materials. We now have a fresh learning environment where we can study.”

To prevent contamination, jars are kept open during the rainy season to catch rainfall, but then sealed to keep out dust and insects. The children at school pour smaller amounts into containers for their daily use. Students are also responsible for maintenance of the jars.

Oudai adds: “We promise we are going to keep the jars with a good condition as long as we can. We are also going to educate the next generation to do the same thing as we have already done.”

Learning the importance of clean water and hygiene has also been an important part of this project. Oudai explains: “If there is no water, everything is dirty and it causes many types of disease. Dirty water can cause dangerous viruses to travel inside our bodies and make us very ill, which then stops us from attending school regularly. So clean water is very important to us.”

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