Khamkeuth District, July 24, 2014

Residents of four villages custom-built by the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) in Bolikhamxay Province have formally taken ownership of their new houses and community facilities.Handover village

At a ceremony held at Ban Phonthong school on July24, Mr. Somphet Khammany, the District Governor of Khamkeuth and Mr Robert Allen, General Manager of THPC, signed a memorandum acknowledging the official transfer from THPC to the villagers and district of houses, schools, health centres, electricity and water supply systems, roads, irrigation schemes and other community facilities. The total value of the infrastructure is over 109 billion kip (US$14 m).

The people of Nongxong, Sopphouan, Phonthong and Thasala in Khamkeuth District moved to new villages between 2009 and 2012 under the resettlement and relocation programs required for the Theun-Hinboun hydropower expansion project. The expansion, inaugurated in January 2013, more than doubled the electricity generating capacity of THPC to 500 megawatts, enabling the company to significantly increase its contribution to national development.

Around 4,000 people moved from the Nam Gnouang Reservoir area to resettlement villages, including Nongxong, Sopphouan and Phonthong to enable construction of the expansion project. The village of Thasala was relocated from near the Nam Gnouang Dam to the edge of the reservoir, where villagers can take advantage of the fishing potential.

In addition to owning high quality houses in the new villages, and gaining access to greatly improved public services and facilities, the resettled and relocated families can benefit from livelihood programs to help them improve agricultural production or learn new skills for business development.

At the handover ceremony Mr Allen assured villagers that although THPC had transferred ownership of all facilities to the district authority, which would then transfer house and private land ownership to each family, the company remains committed to investing in the communities and some assistance will also be available for road and water supply maintenance.

The THPC social and environmental team works with villagers to help them establish improved livelihoods. In January this year THPC approved over US$50 million for continued programs over the next five years.

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Four pupils at the Theun-Hinboun School in Khounkham District, Khammouane Province have achieved rankings in the national examinations for gifted students.

star students IMG 1193Somsavath Sykham, a final-year student in the school’s upper secondary section, was one of 20 students selected from across the country to take the national exams in Vientiane in late April after coming first in exams at both district and provincial level. Somsavath was placed fifteenth in the national mathematics exam, a result which delighted the 17-year-old boy, his family and the school.

The school opened in 1996 at the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) operations camp in Khounkham. Half of the pupils currently enrolled are the children of THPC staff and the other half come from surrounding villages. THPC policy stresses the long-term value of education development and the school formed one of the company’s first investments in this area.

Three 15-year-old students from the school’s lower secondary section also topped their district and provincial results and qualified for the national exams. Miss Patthana Muangbak came sixth in the country for Chemistry, Ketsana Vongpatta finished seventh in maths and Pasith Xaynavong ranked eighth in Lao.

According to Mrs Khamwai Bounleutai, the school’s headmistress, while the school often produces pupils who achieve good results at district and provincial level, this year has been exceptional in terms of national results. In 2013 the school had two pupils make the national level, and both were subsequently offered places at the national Phonesavanh school of excellence

Ajaan Khamwai is in no doubt as to why the school is able to regulalry achieve high level results. “We offer extra classes to the best performing children in the class each year, and we can do this because THPC covers our administration costs and provides the school with good equipment and materials”.

Likewise this year’s star pupils well understand their good fortune in having the opportunity offered by the Theun-Hinboun School. “We know we have an advantage over students from most other schools,” says Somsavath. “Our teachers are much more dedicated than is usual, and that encourages us to strive for excellence.”

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Theun-Hinboun Student Third in National Exam

Hinboun District, June 1, 2013

People in the newly-built village of Ban Phou Houaylat in Hinboun District, Khammouane Province, planted about 2,300 trees around their village to mark National Tree Planting Day on June 1. Joined by local officials and staff from the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC), the villagers took a major step forward in the improving the environment around their new settlement while at the same time contributing to their developing community.2014treeplantPhouHouaylat

The new village was built over the last two years by THPC to provide a flood-safe location for three villages living along the Hinboun River. The Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project, inaugurated in early 2013, is expected to aggravate the length and intensity of the natural floods that occur during some wet seasons, and so THPC has been building relocation villages along the Hinboun and Hai rivers to ensure local people are not endangered.

Two communities, Ban Phakteuk and Ban Songkhone, moved to the Phou Houaylat relocation site in 2013 and the people of Ban Pakveng joined them earlier this year. The new site features improved housing, roads, and other public infrastructure including an irrigation system. Villagers have received new land in the area but also have access to much of their former land nearby.

Leading the tree-planting ceremony were Khammouane provincial officials, together with leaders of Hinboun and neighbouring Khounkham districts, plus THPC management. The saplings included mango, jackfruit, litchi, tamarind and mangosteen trees as well as some shade species and industrial trees.

Teachers and pupils from the village’s two new schools, primary and secondary, will be responsible for looking after the young trees planted around the schoolyards during their first wet season, while householders of the three former villages will maintain those planted around their residential areas.

THPC Deputy General Manager Soulideth Baomanikhoth said the planting of the trees would not only help the new village look greener in the future but would also help people feel more at home in the new village and increase their feeling of belonging. “Moving somewhere new can be difficult”, he said, “and our actions to improve the environment help us connect with the new location”.

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Khamkeuth District, June 4, 2014

Ban Nongxong in Khamkeuth District has been recognised as the first village in Bolikhamxay Province to simultaneously achieve both Model Health Village and Open Defecation Free status.

District health officials, along with partners and representatives of the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC), joined villagers to commemorate the achievement by unveiling a new village sign on June 4.

The award follows a two-year pilot program instituted in the village by THPC. Ban Nonxong is home to around 650 people who moved to the village from other areas in 2009, during expansion of the Theun-Hinboun hydropower project. Among other benefits the new village offered good quality housing, clean water supply, toilets and a clinic.

However, THPC staff noticed that expected improvements in public health were slow to arrive and so in 2013 they approached the Ministry of Health’s National Centre of Environmental Health and Water Supply, Nam Saat, and the Participatory Development Training Centre (PADETC), to help launch a Community-Led Total Sanitation project in Nongxong.

The project has worked with focus groups in the village, including the primary and secondary schools and the Women’s Union, to help people better understand the links between daily behaviour and health levels, and to get better results from the infrastructure in the village. As a result, the number of people using toilets regularly has increased, and people are more aware of how to ensure that water from boreholes or gravity-fed systems is stored or handled correctly so that it remains clean.

An assessment by Khamkeuth District Health Department recently found that more than three-quarters of Nongxong residents had ceased using the bushes around the village as a toilet, thereby conferring “Open Defecation Free” status on the village. At the same time the village also passed 14 established criteria to qualify as the first Model Health Village in Bolikhamxay.

According to Ms Thepphasone Chanthavong, WASH and Nutrition Senior Officer for THPC, the awards made to Ban Nongxong are significant on a national scale and also for the other villages in the Theun-Hinboun project area. “The villagers have worked hard at this under expert guidance from Nam Saat and PADETC,” said Ms Thepphasone. “With the help of the District Health team, THPC is introducing this program to other villages in the area and we hope to achieve similar results in all resettled villages”.

In late May this year the United Nations announced a new campaign to end open defecation, which it says costs about US$260 billion worldwide. According to the UN one billion people in the world still practice open defecation, causing huge economic loss due to illness, death and reduced productivity.

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KPL news article

Vientiane, May 21, 2014THPC Dec 2005 107

Five high-school graduates from the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) School at Khamkeuth, Khammouane Province, are currently studying university courses on scholarships made available by THPC.

The THPC School opened in 1996 at the company’s operations camp in Khammouane and was initially run by the district education department. As the local community grew rapidly alongside the hydropower project, demand for school places increased and so THPC expanded the premises and took direct charge of running the school, which became a private institution.

The school charges a nominal fee of 100,000 kip (US$12.5) per year. Half of the 385 pupils currently enrolled are the children of THPC staff and the other half come from surrounding villages. Each year THPC invests about a quarter of million US dollars in the school, which has set itself a goal of developing human resources in Khounkham District so that the next generation can contribute to national development in Laos.

In 2012 THPC THPC Dec 2005 099decided to trial an extension of the education service they provide to local people by offering five university scholarships to graduates of the school. Applications were open to all students from the project area (excluding the children of THPC staff), providing they came from low income families, had studied at the THPC School for four years, and recorded a high average grade during their time at the school.

Five students were eventually selected by a committee from the school and company. These young women and men then applied for university positions in Laos in the knowledge that THPC would cover the costs of their study. The company provides each student with a monthly allowance to cover their living costs and also pays any study fees required by the university. The students are free to choose their own courses and places of study and are not tied to THPC in any way during or after their years of study.

A series of three articles on the THPC website looks at the progress made by these rural students at universities away from home and reflects on their experiences and hopes for the future.

 Student features:          Ms Aloun

Mr Sonethavy

Mr Maikhene

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Theun-Hinboun Pupils Reach National Top Level