Hinboun District, June 23, 2015IMG 6563

Khammouane people living along the upper and middle stretches of the Hinboun River have begun taking ownership of new villages built for them on flood-safe ground by the Theun-Hinboun Power Company, or THPC.

On June 23 the residents of Ban Pakthuk and Ban Houaydeua witnessed the official handover of the houses, health centre, electricity and water supply systems, roads and other community facilities built by THPC over the past three years. The transfer was signed by Soulideth Baomanikhoth, THPC Deputy General Manager and Ouanma Khantinyavong, the Governor of Hinboun District, witnessed by the Vice-Governor of Khammouane, Odai Sudaporn.

The new Pakthuk site groups families who relocated from the nearby Songkhone and Pakthuk villages in 2013, along with the people of Ban Pakveng, who joined them in 2014. Ban Houaydeua is the new home for villages from Vangmon and Xang villages.

In total THPC has built eight new villages along the Hinboun and Hai rivers. The Theun-Hinboun Expansion 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 building relocation villages to ensure that local people are not endangered. Handover ceremonies will be held in other villages in the coming weeks.

The new Pakthuk and Houaydeua villages feature primary and secondary schools, temples and other public infrastructure including an expanded irrigation system. The cost of building each village came to more than US$3 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 livelihood programs to help them improve agricultural production or learn new skills for business development.

At the handover ceremony Mr Khammany Inthirath, Chairman of the THPC Board of Directors, said that while new roads and economic activities in the area had greatly increased the livelihood opportunities in the district over the last 20 years, THPC would continue to provide support to villagers until average incomes had climbed above targets set by the government when the expansion project commenced.

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Many families moving to Pakthuk and Houaydeua chose to build their own houses with THPC funding, and the villages display a mix of architectural styles.

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For the second successive year, pupils at the Theun-Hinboun School in Khounkham District, Khammouane Province have registered success in national examinations for gifted students.

Silisopha Soukhaphone from the school’s primary section took third place in Lao language for children from across the whole country, while another primary school girl, plus one boy and one girl from the secondary section were all mentioned in the top twenty students in the national exams, held in late April. THPC Dec 2005 107

Mrs Khamwai Bounleutai, the school’s headmistress, said she and the school staff were very proud of the four students, but were also pleased with the general performance of the school’s pupils. “We try to give all our children a good start in life,” said Ajaan Khamwai, “and while we are pleased to see these high-flying pupils maintain the reputation of the Theun-Hinboun School nationally, we aim to deliver an education that benefits students of all levels.”

Ten-year-old Silisopha attributes her success to the extra time put in by her teacher and her love of reading. She gets an hour of extra lessons almost every day from her teacher and when she gets home she spends most of her free time reading books in Lao language. Her parents encourage this hobby and are always on the lookout for new books to help their daughter expand her knowledge and language ability.

The TH school opened in 1996 at the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC) operations camp in Khounkham. It charges a nominal fee of 100,000 kip (US$12.5) per child per year but the bulk of its funding is provided by THPC. About half of the 385 pupils currently enrolled are the children of THPC staff and the other half come from surrounding villages. THPC provides additional allowances to children from the poorest families to help cover the costs of their uniforms and books.

This year 11 pupils from the school took district-level exams, with six qualifying for the provincial level tests and four for the national exams.

 

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Khamkeuth District, June 1, 2015IMG 5950

The villagers of Ban Phonthong in Khamkeuth District, Bolikhamxay Province, marked National Tree Planting Day by planting over 6,000 saplings around their community. District and provincial officials joined the tree-planting effort along with staff from the Theun-Hinboun Power Company (THPC), which organised the event.

Phonthong is one four villages developed by THPC to resettle people who moved as part of the expansion project which raised the company’s generating capacity to 500 megawatts. Over 1,800 people took ownership of their new houses at Phonthong in 2010-11. The village features a clinic, school, new roads and other public facilities, as well as improved water supply and electricity. The company runs livelihood programs to help villagers increase their incomes and supports any vulnerable families who struggle to grow food or earn money.

Soulideth Baomanikhoth, Deputy General Manager of THPC, said the annual tree-planting event was both symbolic and practical. “THPC is happy to contribute to National Tree Planting Day every year. The occasion provides us with an opportunity not only to raise awareness about environmental issues but also to help villagers improve their surroundings”.

IMG 5978THPC provided a variety of trees for the villagers to plant including fruit trees, decorative species, industrial trees and shade providers. The residents of Phonthong planted the saplings around the village school, meeting hall and temple plus around their houses and home gardens. Village authorities, including the school teachers, have taken on responsibility for watering and protecting the young trees over the first few years.

As they mature the trees will help the new part of the village, which was built on cleared land, to greatly improve in appearance. The tree-planting exercise also helps remind local people and authorities of the importance of forests and biodiversity conservation, issues which THPC is keen to promote around the rivers and reservoirs in the Theun-Hinboun area.

 

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Fishbio, a US and Laos-based fisheries and environmental consulting company is undertaking a review of THPC's fisheries monitoring program in the Nam Gnouang Reservoir. THXP Dec 2011 0522

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Pakxong District, May 10, 2015IMG 4515


Employees at THPC have discovered a way to help a countryside village while at the same time improving their own professional performance. Two trips in May and April brought the THPC staff to Champassak, where they combined team-building activities with practical assistance to a rural community.

In late April a first group of about 120 THPC employees travelled to Pakse to spend two days on activities designed to help them communicate and work together better. In May a second group of around 150 personnel repeated the program so that every staff member had the chance to participate.

The first day was spent building new classrooms for Ban Boun Secondary School. THPC has joined together with the provincial education authority and the villagers of Ban Boun to co-fund the construction of four new classrooms at the school, located in Pathoumphone District.

As well as fundIMG 3944ing the construction, THPC staff spent two days at the school laying cement-block walls and concrete floors for the new classrooms. According to Jyxiong Juevaxaiki, THPC’s Corporate Support and
Services Manager, this exercise showed the people of Ban Boun that THPC staff were serious about serving the community, and also enabled the company to speed up essential work ahead of the wet season.

“We had well over 100 labourers and some experienced builders on the site for two days, so we were able to accelerate the construction,” explained Mr Jyxiong. “At the same time, our staff benefitted from having to work together in random groups and an unexpected setting. This gave us a valuable team-building activity while helping out the school and village”.

The team-building theme was continued on the second day of both trips as the THPC staff travelled to the Etu Waterfall Resort in Pakxong District for an all-day session of outdoor bonding exercises. Divided once more into random teams, staff were put through a succession of activities designed to make each group organize, elect leaders and find ways of co-operating to complete various tasks. These physical and mental challenges required trust and team coordination as participants were in turn blindfolded and tied to each other while given problems to solve.

The two days of activities left almost the whole of the THPC staff physically exhausted but emotionally rewarded. Asked if they wished to repeat the exercise next year, almost all 270 participants replied with a resounding “Yes!”

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