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Groundwater Expertise for Laos

Visiting water scientists from Laos have added to their expertise by undertaking an Australian Groundwater School short course, and have also made preliminary links with researchers at Flinders.

The trio were environmental scientist Mr Kanya Souksakoun, engineer Mr Khaykeo Keokhamphui (both from the National University of Laos), and Ms Bounyaseng Sengkhammy, chief of the Environment Resources Centre in the Ministry of National Resources and Environment.

They attended the intensive course on the fundamentals of groundwater science, technology and management. The Australian Groundwater School is run by the National Centre for Groundwater Research and Training, based at Flinders.

Professor Craig Simmons, Director of the NCGRT, said that managing groundwater resources is a global issue.

“While the NCGRT courses have an Australian focus, our programs are also designed to contribute to the dissemination of groundwater science internationally,” Professor Simmons said.

Ms Sengkhammy said that understanding groundwater systems was of special importance in Laos, where much of the population is still reliant on groundwater for their drinking supplies. She said contamination from chemicals, including arsenic, was a major issue of concern.

The initial impetus for the visit came from Flinders graduate and former student of Professor Simmons, Dr Paul Pavelic, who is now Senior Researcher and Office Head of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Andhra Pradesh, India. The visit was supported by the Crawford Fund.

In addition to attending the short course, the visitors toured research laboratories and met academics from water-related courses and research centres the School of the Environment.

The visitors expressed a strong interest in exploring further academic and research links with Flinders, particularly in the area of postgraduate research projects relating to groundwater and environmental health.

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