Excellencies, Ministers Distinguished Delegates and Representatives of International Organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen,

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1 2012 Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting, 20 April 2012, Washington DC Lao PDR Statement of Commitment Mobilizing Political Prioritization for WASH: Excellency Prof. Dr. Eksavang Vongvichit, Minister of Health And Mme. Khempheng Pholsena, Minister of Prime Minister Office and Chair Person of National Commission on Mother and Child Excellencies, Ministers Distinguished Delegates and Representatives of International Organizations, Ladies and Gentlemen, On behalf of the Lao PDR Delegation, may I firstly express our deep and sincere appreciation for the honor to deliver a statement of Commitment at the Washington DC for 2012 Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting. I would also like to extend our heartfelt thanks to UNICEF, for hosting this meaningful High Level Meeting with aim to target resources, raise the profile of sanitation, increase political will, improve understanding of impact, increase donor engagement, strengthen accountability and reiterate our commitments as stated in the East Asia Ministerial Conference on Sanitation (EASAN 1 and 2) in Beppu and Manila, taking stock of incountry initiatives with only three year left to achieve the MDG. I am delighted to represent Lao PDR at this important High Level Meeting to focus our attention on this significant subject of Sanitation and Water for All. The latest JMP estimates indicate that total water and sanitation coverage increased to around 67 per cent and 63 per cent respectively in Access to water supply in rural areas is determined by location. More remote provinces and those with fewer roads have lower coverage. Improved water access is stretched during the dry season and access for poor households is about 10 to 15 percentage points below access for non-poor households. Moreover, the burden of inadequate water supply and sanitation lies mostly on the poor. Household access to toilet facilities has gradually improved in recent years. In 2000, its coverage was roughly 19 per cent in rural areas and 67 per cent in urban. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) in 2006, household using improved sanitation and water sources shows great disparity between the poorest and richest quintiles which stands at 5.1 and 71.5 respectively. 1

2 These disparities are highly linked to the geography of poverty in our country, where about three-quarters of the Lao population live in rural and remote areas. The Government is making great efforts to strengthen the health care system. Considerable progress has been made over the past ten years and life expectancy at birth has increased from less than 50 before 1990 to about 61 currently (63 for female and 59 for male). The trends are similar in maternal and infant mortality. However, communicable diseases such as ARI, diarrhea, dengue fever and intestinal parasites remain common. The government of Lao PDR clearly recognizes Sanitation and Water as key indicators on issues of social equity. Lao PDR sees Sanitation and Water as the fundamental human rights and outcomes in realization of human rights as well as outputs and high priority for our development agendas relevant to national health, education and social wellbeing. It is estimated that the country loses USD 193 million equivalent to 5.6 per cent of its GDP each year due to poor sanitation and hygiene as reported by The World Bank s Water and Sanitation Program study on economics of sanitation. Diarrhea being the second largest killer of children under five poses a great challenge to the results set for health in the country. Although Lao PDR has significantly improved net enrolment in primary schools (both girls and boys), yet the 65 per cent of schools not having functional sanitation and water facilities pose a challenge to students health, retention and completion of primary schools. Water is one of Lao PDR s principal assets; in fact, the country has the highest per-capita water resources of any Asian country. However, very little of the available water is developed for drinking, and a high proportion of the population suffers from diseases related to deficiencies in water supply and sanitation. The government has planned to develop and upgrade its major township centers that are mostly the provincial and district towns. But these plans cannot become reality without technically and economically viable sanitation, water supply and solid waste management systems. The Lao government is working to integrate Sanitation and Water in its core package of Maternal and Neonatal Child Health and supporting the partners of Education For All (EFA)/Fast Track Initiative (FTI) in ensuring all schools in the educationally most disadvantaged districts are provided with Sanitation and Water facilities on a priority basis. The linkages among water, sanitation and hygiene issues are increasingly evident, and the government is actively integrating these issues in nutrition promotion and management programmes. A significant budget increase has been committed for urban sanitation and water as well as a 10 per cent increase by the Ministry of Health for rural sanitation and water for 2012 and same for subsequent years up to Lao PDR is also persuading and facilitating the private sector to become actively engaged as committed partner toward our objectives. For example, significant sanitation and water budget allocations for areas affected by development projects. With current overall coverage of 67 per cent for water and 63 per cent for sanitation, Lao PDR is on track for both sanitation and water MDG target. However, almost half the population (73 per 2

3 cent lives in rural areas) still defecates in open or uses unimproved sanitation facilities. Current plans to graduate from Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2020 also aim to ensure that 90 per cent of the population uses improved sources of drinking water and 80 per cent improved basic sanitation facilities with universal coverage in schools. This is a tremendous undertaking given the combined effects of rapid population growth, socio-economic development and urbanization. The 7 th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) includes targets such as 60 per cent for sanitation and 70 per cent for water. Lao PDR looks beyond the international commitments to achieve its MDGs and strive for 2020 targets. To achieve these targets by 2020, significantly increased efforts will be needed, particularly for remote rural areas and for the poorest communities and households. Concerted actions are needed to accelerate progress in water and sanitation and the Government of Lao PDR agrees to support and implement commitments to increase future good performance and effectiveness of the sanitation and water for all as follow. In addition to the public sector commitment of USD 15 million (19 % for rural sanitation and water), the government of Lao PDR will provide leadership, support and create an enabling environment to mobilize an additional USD 28 million through our development partners to implement the newly developed National Strategy on Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene over the next four years. Recognizing stretched resources, the government will continue to work with development partners in implementing new approaches such as demand creation for sustainable sanitation and water supply in rural areas including effective use of funds for scalingup at the nationwide. According to our projections this will facilitate another 3 million people in remote rural, rural and peri-urban areas. Lao PDR participates in this SWA high level meeting with the full commitment of the highest level given by the Honorable Prime Minister. This statement of commitment is also seen and endorsed by the Finance Minister of Lao PDR. With the law on Hygiene and Prevention recently promulgated, the government is in the process of initiating policy dialog for National Sanitation policy, the national policy on Drinking Water. The national government of Lao PDR will continue supporting provincial authorities to enhance commitment in sanitation and water through a decentralized prioritization and District Development Funds for basic social services. The Government of Lao PDR has shown its comments for creating enabling environment for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in a newly developed national WASH strategy. In the 7th National Socio-Economic Development Plan, the Government has committed to prioritize social service delivery to rural off-road communities. Authorities responsible for sanitation and water are encouraged to increase allocation to the sector from both the national pool and provincial budgets. Moreover, the national strategy on Rural Water Supply, Sanitation 3

4 and Hygiene has a planned budget of USD 43 million, of which the government has committed to provide USD 15 million. The remaining resources will be mobilized from the country s development partners. To address gaps in access and coverage between urban and rural areas the government is developing forward looking investment plans that aim to address a wide range of economic and social disparities with a focus on the poorest and least advantaged. With this disparity in mind the government is emphasizing to mobilize resources for 64 focal areas which are remote and poorest. Over the next two years, sanitation and water partners in the Lao PDR will have a fully formal coordination mechanism jointly provided by Ministry of Health and Ministry of Public Works and Transport. The government of Lao PDR will take into consideration to establish WASH Working Group to ensure government leadership and coordination for both urban and rural sectors. Lao PDR has recently developed a new National Strategy on Rural Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene with ambitious but achievable results for For urban sanitation and water, the Ministry of Public works has developed a policy on management and development of water supply sector including sector investment plan up to the year 2020, draft road map to the future and draft strategy of the water supply and sanitation sector. In , the water and sanitation investment would be around US$. We ensure solid government commitment to allocate adequate resources for the financial plans of these strategies. We will also work with provincial governments to prioritize budget allocations that overcome bottlenecks. The government will seek support from its development partners for identification of capacity gaps and will extend full cooperation toward minimizing those gaps. We will plan for a comprehensive capacity assessment of the sector to embark upon such initiatives. The government will continue work to clarify the status of peri-urban areas, where in some cases urban and rural mandates clash, resulting in poor targeting of resources. A monitoring package known as the National Water and Sanitation Sector Assessment is now launched in Lao PDR. This will serve as a reliable sector monitoring tool that will also ensure linkages to the Education sector. The Ministry of Health has already initiated work on this with the support of WHO and UNICEF. To date, there has been no national survey providing disaggregated water and sanitation data at provincial levels. (Only project-based coverage data has been used to monitor provincial level progress.) However, the Lao Social Indicator Survey (currently in progress, the results of which are expected by the end of 2012) will provide a first opportunity to comprehensively monitor the provincial progress on coverage and gaps. The government will support utility of this data in resource planning and budget allocation in addition to strengthening the next Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) report. Lao PDR did its first Global Assessment for Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLASS) report in 2010 and will continue to support this monitoring tool with the help of development partners. Another important set of evidence is being developed to monitor and set 4

5 the guidance for improvement of service delivery for sanitation and water sector by WSP and the government. The government of Lao PDR gives extreme importance to the valuable technical and budgetary support that comes to the Sanitation and Water sector from Donors and multi-lateral partners. We express particular appreciation to AusAID, Government of Japan, UNICEF, WHO, ADB, The World Bank s Water and Sanitation Program, UN-Habitat, and the International NGOs and Multi-Donor Funds for Poverty Reduction. These partners are supporting the development of evidence, advocating for our sector and providing technical assistance through application of global best practices. The Government is committed to ensuring an enabling environment and leadership role for the sector and ensures full cooperation to our vital and valued development partners. Our participation in this Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting will certainly provide valuable learning and experience sharing opportunities. In order to effectively implement the Country Statement of Commitment, we would like to wish to request all concerned parties and external support agencies to continue to provide the critical support that will enable Lao PDR attain its national goals on poverty eradication, including the provision of improved sanitation, water and hygiene to our people. With the best sentiment, may I once again express my deepest appreciation to UNICEF for the excellent preparation and support to the success of the High Level Meeting