Prior to this project there were no toilets in the village except for two beside a new school built in 2019. Bounchan made a proposal in December 2019 to construct 37 toilets at a cost of approximately $6,450 USD ($175 USD each). The project was begun with a proof-of-concept installation in July 2021. Check out Bounchan's project proposal here. Progress is described here with the most recent news at the top.
April 2022 (FB April 14, 2022)
Village attention during February & March 2022 was focused on preparing the upland rice fields for the rainy season that begins in May. (Upland rice is not grown in flat, flooded paddies, but planted as seeds on hillsides so rain is critical.)
The photos show typical construction of two of the toilets and the group effort involved. I particularly enjoyed the 1st photo with mother and baby watching dad digging, the 5th photo with the young man in red beaming and flashing a victory sign, and the 14th photo of a homeowner standing on a toilet cover with the hint of a satisfied smile. Backgrounds in the 2nd, 5th and 9th photos give glimpses of village houses. (Let us hope that the apparently below-grade level of the toilet cover in the last photo does not present a problem with water run-off during the rainy season.
On the move (FB Feb 23, 2022)
After completion of a proof-of-concept toilet in summer 2021 the project was very pleased to receive a $10,000 CAD grant from an old electrical engineering classmate of mine, Lorne T. Alas, Covid intervened and Laos, which was previously pretty much unscathed until a blip in April/May 2021, was forced into a severe lockdown which only eased in January 2022 and caused additional economic hardship on top of the existing collapse of the tourist industry.
Finally, on February 23rd the 1st shipment of concrete toilet components headed to Phoumieng after crossing the Mekong by ferry. The shipment had to be transferred to the three Chinese buffalo tractors shown in the video for the final 8 km ride to the village.
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Proof of concept (Summer 2021)
Delivery & excavation. The 1st two photos show sections of the septic tank being unloaded from a “Chinese buffalo tractor”. Photos 3 & 4 show kids getting into digging holes for the septic tanks – what kid could resist the opportunity! Bounchan appears in the deeper hole in photos 4 & 5. Bounchan’s mother, Daw, is helping out in photo 6, there’s not much she doesn’t do. The final two photos show the kids getting into the work.
Assembling a toilet. Two septic tanks are used in each toilet and constructed from two stacked pre-cast concrete cylinders for each tank. As the cylinders are positioned in the pit in photos 4 & 5 there is quite an audience looking on since this is the village’s first toilet. Zoom in to check out some of the faces, a couple of the guys in photo 4 have fashionable side cut haircuts. Bounchan is applying cement to the top of the lower cylinder in photo 6 which will glue the lower and upper cylinders together. A layer of cement on the top of the upper cylinder will glue the cover that’s being rolled to the site in photo 8. Photos 11, 12, and 13 show the squat bowl being cemented in place. The thin blue pipe in the last photo is likely a vent to prevent the build up of gases.
First toilet completed. Here are two photos of the first completed toilet. Bounchan is waiting for rainy season to taper off to allow transportation of materials for another four.