Supply Chain Analysis for Rural Sanitation Products and Services in Lao pdr


Masons are builders or construction workers who are contracted build a variety of structures, including latrines



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Masons


Masons are builders or construction workers who are contracted build a variety of structures, including latrines.

Masons can be divided into three groups:



  • Skilled masons: experienced workers with advanced masonry and construction skills and will typically lead a team in construction;

  • Semi-skilled masons: workers with basic masonry and construction skills and able to construct simple structures but will typically work under a skilled mason; and

  • Unskilled masons: unskilled laborers, mostly farmers or otherwise unemployed, that offer their manpower to perform manual tasks.

Masons will typically be approached and contracted by households for labor services with materials purchased by the households themselves. It’s rare that the mason purchases materials on behalf of the household. Usually the mason has no preference from which shops the materials are purchased.

The masons interviewed have been in the business for 12 years on average. All the masons interviewed were men. Their main reasons for being a mason are lack of other alternatives, as well as to take advantage of the recent boom in construction of houses in Laos PDR.







Masons in Attapeu Province

Around a third of masons surveyed reported to have other business activities (mainly farming and retailing). Five masons stated that other activities provide more of their income than masonry. These activities include teaching, running a petrol station, growing coffee, and “selling”.

Only 6% of the masons interviewed declared to be registered.12

The overwhelming majority (79%) has not been trained for working as a mason but rather learnt the technical skills “by doing”; however the difference among the regions is large. Northern masons are relatively more trained (45%) than Southern (30%). None of the masons interviewed in the Central region said that he was trained for that job.

Figure 9: Masons who have received training (% of total per region/province) (n=71)



Of the masons that have been trained, 14% declared to be trained at college and the remaining from NGOs or other development programs. However, 83% stated they were willing and available to improve their skills, in terms of type of construction, internal decoration and others areas.

The masons interviewed estimate that they built 455 latrines in the last year. This is 6.4 latrines per mason, although two masons report building 50 latrines and another two built 20. On average, masons stated that 69% of the latrines they build are as part of a new house. However, there is a wide range in answers: for some masons 100% of the latrines they construct are part of building a new house; for others, 60% are for new houses and 40% “only latrines” (that is, not part of a new house and not because an old latrine was broken or full). Thirteen masons (18%) said they had built new latrines because an existing latrine was broken/collapsed.

Among the 54 masons who indicated building “only latrine” as part of their business, about 20% of their income is related to latrine construction.


Mason’s latrine knowledge and skills


Masons generally had a limited knowledge of latrine designs. The most popular latrine as described by masons includes:

  • Concrete slab;

  • Offset pit (with bricks rather than concrete rings as preferred lining);

  • Squat pan (from Thailand);

  • Brick superstructure (if not brick, then often the involvement of a mason is not necessary, with the household building themselves)

About 96% of the sample said they were able to build a full latrine (underground and superstructure). In terms of pit lining, bricks seem to be becoming more popular than concrete rings — at least partly because they allow the building a bigger pit (that takes longer to fill). 96% of the masons reported that they had built a latrine pit lined with bricks, and 86% with concrete rings.13 Typically the customer will have purchased the construction materials, including bricks or rings.

Table 15: Pit lining options (% of total) (n=71)



Region – Province

Masons who have experience lining pits:

Only with Bricks

Only with Concrete rings

Bricks & Concrete rings

Northern

0%

0%

100%

Bokeo

0%

0%

100%

Luangnamtha

0%

0%

100%

Central

4%

4%

88%

Borikhamxay

0%

0%

91%

Savannakhet

7%

7%

87%

Southern

24%

0%

76%

Attapeu

30%

0%

70%

Salavan

18%

0%

82%

Sekong

23%

0%

77%

Total sample

13%

1%

85%

Masons are able to build different kind of latrines: 85% declared being able to build a flush/pour flush latrine to a pit, 79% to a septic tank and 61% to a piped sewerage system. However, only 11% reported knowledge of building a dry latrine (probably because they have never built this kind of latrine – these are usually made by households themselves with natural local materials).

Table 16: Type of latrines masons able to build (% of total) (n=71)

Region – Province

Flush / Pour Flush:

Dry latrine

Composting toilet

to piped sewerage systems

to septic tank

to pit latrine

Northern

64%

73%

100%

27%

9%

Bokeo

71%

71%

100%

43%

14%

Luangnamtha

50%

75%

100%

0%

0%

Central

46%

62%

81%

0%

0%

Borikhamxay

64%

55%

73%

0%

0%

Savannakhet

33%

67%

87%

0%

0%

Southern

71%

94%

82%

15%

24%

Attapeu

70%

90%

80%

10%

20%

Salavan

100%

100%

91%

9%

18%

Sekong

46%

92%

77%

23%

31%

Total sample

61%

79%

85%

11%

13%


Repairs and maintenance


Around 34% of the masons declared that they repair latrines (with an average of 2.5 latrines repaired in the last year). In terms of upgrading existing latrines, 27% of the masons declared they are able to upgrade an existing latrine. They report an average of 3 latrine upgrades in the last year.

Table 17: Ability of masons to repair and upgrade a latrine and average per year (n=71)



Region – Province

Repair

Upgrading

Able (%)

# in the last year

Able (%)

# in the last year

Northern

91%

2.5

55%

4.0

Bokeo

86%

3.0

57%

4.0

Luangnamtha

100%

1.0

50%

4.0

Central

46%

2.0

35%

2.3

Borikhamxay

55%

2.0

64%

2.3

Savannakhet

40%

2.0

13%

0

Southern

6%

3.3

12%

2.5

Attapeu

10%

5.0

10%

0

Salavan

9%

2.0

9%

2.0

Sekong

0%

0

15%

3.0

Total sample

34%

2.5

27%

3.0

The most common type of upgrade/improvement is building a new pit (56% of masons reported doing this), followed by building a permanent superstructure (49% of the masons).

Table 18: Most common improvements made (% of total, multiple choice allowed) (n=71)

Region – Province

New pit

New slab

Permanent superstructure

Northern

36%

27%

36%

Bokeo

29%

29%

29%

Luangnamtha

50%

25%

50%

Central

65%

42%

77%

Borikhamxay

73%

55%

82%

Savannakhet

60%

33%

73%

Southern

56%

6%

32%

Attapeu

30%

10%

30%

Salavan

82%

0%

36%

Sekong

54%

8%

31%

Total sample

56%

23%

49%


      1. Latrine emptying


No latrine emptying businesses were interviewed. These are very rare in the research districts. Local officials in Bokeo stated that one company in the province empties latrines. Usually new pits are dug when required.


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