This project funded by the U.S. Embassy to Laos’ Public Diplomacy Small Grants Program worked to promote environmental awareness and improve the conditions of two primary schools in Lao PDR, one in Phalath Village in Sanakham District, Vientiane Province, and one in Houaykhualuang village, Xayabouri District and Province, Lao PDR. The three main activities of the one-year project (2018–2019) were to 1) conduct a school environmental awareness presentation related macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) as indicators of river health, 2) lead a river clean up activity and address litter issues near the schools, and 3) refurbish the two schools by painting buildings and planting trees. The project was implemented by our staff in coordination with the District Office of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE), the District Agriculture and Forestry Office (DAFO), and the District Education and Sport office in each district. In all, our activities engaged 14 teachers and 142 students across the two villages.
To promote environmental awareness and stewardship, the project sought to implement a participatory water quality monitoring program to teach students and teachers techniques for monitoring and addressing impacts to their community’s river resources. This included teaching them how to collect, identify, and interpret the presence of macroinvertebrate species as indicators of water quality. We also led students in a river cleanup to collect trash, and installed rubbish bins at their schools, showing how the community can work together to minimize litter impacts and to address the water quality concerns in their village. Finally, we repainted each of the school buildings, which had become discolored with age, and planted 50 tree samplings of fruit trees and other species. We hope this green, welcoming environment will foster the healthy wellbeing of teachers and students into the future