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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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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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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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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