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Nakai Young Artists Sketch a Clean Environment
Children and schools on Laos's Nakai Plateau receive prizes from the Nam Theun 2 Power Company for artwork celebrating World Environment Day. NTPC is committed to preserving the unique biodiversity of the area and to educating children on Nakai.
To mark the day, NTPC and the Nakai District Education Department organised a poster competition in schools on the Nakai Plateau just before World Environment Day was held on June 5. Over 700 children in 16 villages were given paper and their own colouring pencil sets for the competition, and NTPC staff toured the area giving lessons on the importance of preserving biodiversity and natural resources, of not littering or polluting the environment. The students were then asked to create posters that would pass on messages they thought important for World Environment Day.
According to Ms Xaysomphone Souvannavong, NTPC Environmental Programme Assistant, there were several reasons for organising the competition. “We wanted to follow up on awareness activities that NTPC conducted with children on Nakai last year. Children pick up on environmental issues quickly and help spread them through the community. Also, they can carry these ideals with them for the rest of their life, so time and effort spent educating them is an investment for everyone’s future”.
The competition produced many good posters, making judging the artwork a challenging job. A jury of NTPC and World Bank staff picked winners, runners-up, and third-placed entries in three age groups: 6-8, 9-12 and 13-plus. The awards were made in September, after the pupils had finished their holidays and settled into the new school year. Winners received bicycles to encourage ‘green’ transport values, the runners-up were awarded wildlife books and school bags, while the third-placed children won art materials.
Teaching aids for environmental matters were also awarded to the schools. All participating schools received globes to aid discussion of the world, while those that provided winning entries were given books on Lao birds and wildlife.
The art work showed the children’s awareness of the importance of preserving forests, of not hunting wildlife, and of keeping rivers and the local environment clean. According to Ms Xaysomphone, Nakai children know these issues well now, but follow-up events like this competition can reinforce the message through the community and get it out to other people connected with Nakai.
NTPC will exhibit the winning posters in various locations in Khammouane and Vientiane, beginning with the government offices where hydropower developers meet with officials to discuss projects.
Ms Phanphilay Syhavong, a primary school teacher in Oudomsouk, said that educational standards have improved greatly on Nakai since the Nam Theun 2 Project began, and that teachers are encouraged to talk to children about the importance of the forest and wildlife.
The schools on Nakai were all built by NTPC, which also funds teachers and school lunches. The competition gave the company a further opportunity to provide input to the schools and the community.
NTPC conducts a wide-ranging environmental and social programme as part of the development of the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Project, aiming to leave the people and the ecology in the area in a better situation than they were before the Project started.
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The Nam Theun 2 Power Company (NTPC) is the developer and operator of the Nam Theun 2 Hydroelectric Project in the Lao PDR. The Project is a public-private partnership designed to generate electricity for export to Thailand and domestic use in Laos. Revenues accruing to the Lao government during NTPC's concession period, estimated at over US$2 billion, are to be used to fund poverty alleviation in the country. Nam Theun 2 is structured as an industrial and a development Project which places great emphasis on protection of the environment and sustainable social programmes that will improve the livelihoods of people in the Project area. After 25 years of operation from 2010, the Project will be transferred to the Lao State. See www.namtheun2.com.