Khounkham District, September 2, 2015phousaathandover

The residents of four more villages built along the Hai and Hinboun rivers in Khammouane have taken ownership of the facilities built for them on flood-safe ground by the Theun-Hinboun Power Company, or THPC.

On September 2 residents of Phoumakneng, Phousaat, Tha and Thamtem villages gathered at Ban Phousaat for the official handover of the houses, health centres, schools, electricity and water supply systems and other community facilities built by THPC over the past six years.

The transfer was signed by Robert Allen, THPC General Manager and Keolandon Chanthapany, the Governor of Khounkham District, witnessed by the Governor of Khammouane, Odai Sudaporn. The ceremony followed a similar transfer of ownership conducted at two villages in Hinboun District in June.

THPC began constructing new villages downstream of its power plant in 2009 as part of the Theun-Hinboun Expansion Project. The project, inaugurated in early 2013, is expected to aggravate the length and intensity of natural floods that occur during some wet seasons, and so THPC has been relocating villages to ensure that local people are not endangered.

The facilities at the four villages, including irrigation system, temples, roads and other public infrastructure, cost THPC around US$7.75 million. Villagers have received new fields in the area and still have access to much of their former land from the old villages nearby. The relocated families can also benefit from programs to help them improve agricultural production or learn skills for business development.

At the handover ceremony Mr Allen said that while the success of each family’s livelihoods in the new villages depended largely on the efforts of the villagers, THPC would continue to support the communities until it became apparent that each village was moving towards sustainable prosperity. Mr Allen also called on the district and provincial authorities to contribute to the services and maintenance support required to keep each village in good condition.

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Many families moving to the villages chose to build their own houses with THPC funding, while the company took charge of constructing public facilities such as the schools and clinics.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Photos: THPC/Jim Holmes

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LDWC2015 1THPC has renewed its support to the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre (LDWDC) in Vientiane, providing a cheque for US$2,000 on August 21. The donation was presented to the Centre’s Director, Mrs Chanpheng Sivila, who described some of the progress made at the centre over the past year. 

A new building was opened in 2014 to welcome visitors and showcase the products made by women at the centre. Mrs Chanpheng explained that the centre now receives many visitors, including those who arrive through regular study tours organized by schools, kindergartens and universities. 

The centre has adopted a specially-designed curriculum for its trainees this year, and now offers a six-month course that gives disabled people a foundation in six essential subjects. The course was developed in conjunction with Pakpasak Technical College and the Ministry of Education to help busy women learn what they need for starting a small business or improving employment opportunities in a shorter time. The LDWDC previously ran year-long courses but many women needed to return to their families before the training was completed.

Mrs Chanpheng said the Centre has built a strong network with businesses around the country and is able to provide support to trainees after they complete the course, linking up disabled women with potential employees. Through the Lao Disabled Women’s Association, the Centre is also setting up a second training centre in Attapeu, run by former LDWDC students.

 

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IMG 6464The Theun-Hinboun Power Company was able to use the good fortune and generosity of friends and business partners to make a donation of US$1,500 to Vientiane Rescue Service in late June.

The initiative behind the donation came from Mr Seng Thammavong of the Long Thep Ice Factory. At two separate golf tournaments this year, Mr Seng won vouchers entitling him to a discount from Lao Ford City when buying a new car.

Knowing that THPC had previously supported Vientiane Rescue, and that the company was planning to buy new vehicles from Lao Ford City, Mr Seng gave the vouchers to THPC on the condition that they be used to support the rescue service.

Lao Ford City generously offered to accept the transfer of the vouchers to THPC and to facilitate a discount that that would lead to a $1,500 donation to Vientiane Rescue. Vientiane Rescue representatives visited the THPC office on June 22 to accept a cheque from Mr Seng and the THPC General Manager, Robert Allen Jr.

Staffed mainly by volunteers, Vientiane Rescue (ໜ່ວຍກູ້ໄພ ມູນນິທິ) is a free emergency and rescue service that has won many admirers for its work in helping the victims of accidents in and around the capital. People needing emergency assistance can contact the service by telephoning the special 1623 number.

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A state-of-the-art planning tool is to be installed at the Ministry of Energy and Mines following donation of funding by major hydropower operators.

A digital sand table that can project three-dimensional views and live information feeds from all of the country’s hydropower dams is being installed at a viewing theatre in the ministry to give officials a clearer understanding of the conditions at each project.

Hydropower operators are being asked to submit technical information on the designs and operating regimes of their facilities, including information on any resettlement required along with details of livelihoods programs and environmental mitigation actions.

On August 12 the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) presented a cheque for US$20,000 to the Vice Minister of Energy and Mines, Viraphonh Viravong, to help fund the installation of the new equipment, which the ministry has sourced from China.

 

 

Khounkham District, July 14, 2015IMG 6653

The children of Keng and Koup villages in Khounkham District, Khammouane Province, will have new primary schools when the next school year begins following the donation of new facilities by shareholders of the Theun-Hinboun Power Company.

Ban Keng and Ban Koup are located about 30 km from the main Theun-Hinboun power station, along the road that runs to Konglor Cave. While neither village is greatly affected by operation of the power plant, both have needed improved schools for several years. These have now been provided from a US$3 million development fund donated by THPC shareholders, SN Power and GMS International. So far this fund, provided on top of the $110 million earmarked for social and environmental activities following Theun-Hinboun’s Expansion Project, has also been used to build irrigation systems and strengthen environmental protection systems.

At the request of the district education office, THPC began building the schools in early 2015. Each features five classrooms, a staff room and toilet block. Construction costs for the two schools amounted to over $214,000 while THPC has contributed furniture and equipment worth an additional $11,000. The school at Ban Keng will also serve children in the nearby village of Nam None.

Handing over the facilities to village and district authorities at a ceremony in Ban Keng, THPC’s Deputy General Manager, Soulideth Baomanikhoth, said that while the company had invested in various community improvements in Khammouane and Bolikhamxay, education was a priority for national development and for THPC’s shareholders. “A solid education can give people the tools to build a prosperous life, providing more options for the future” said Mr Soulideth.

THPC has so far built 13 primary schools and five secondary schools in villages around the plant area, and also sponsors pupils attending its private primary and secondary schools in Khounkham town. Several graduates from the Theun-Hinboun school have been given bursaries to study at universities in Laos, while a new scholarship will soon be available at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok.

The company also supports education outside the Theun-Hinboun area, sponsoring a primary school in Vientiane Province and providing funds for the Educational Development Fund’s Books for Schools project. In April and May this year, THPC staff helped in the construction of new classrooms at a secondary school in Champassak, with the company joining the local community to complete a new block for the students.

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The new school at Ban Kong (top right), funded by THPC's shareholders, was accepted by Mr Khammao Khounsombath of the Khounkham District Education and Sports Office (right) from Soulideth Baomanikhoth of THPC

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