HANOI, Vietnam – In 1990, two of every five people in Vietnam did not have access to clean drinking water. Twenty-five years later, Vietnam supplies clean water to 90 percent of its population.
UNICEF, the Unilever Foundation, World Bank and Global Environmental Funds (GEF) have strengthened rural and urban enhancements for water and sanitation. Government commitments have exceeded the expectations of Millennium Development Goals.
In 1990, tap water and protected wells were found primarily in cities. With 80 percent of the population living in rural locations, tap water was nonexistent. Virtually 54 percent had access to clean water and 31 percent had access to sanitation facilities. Clean springs and wells were extremely scarce.
In comparison to the total population of Vietnam at the time, three of five people did not have access to sanitation facilities. Two of five people used forests, bushes, fields and rivers to defecate. With these poor rates, high levels of child mortality and outbreaks of various diseases were imminent.
Open dumping sites that were once unmaintained held the waste and created an unsanitary environment. Solid waste collection services only had the capacity to serve 70 percent of the country.
The country produces 15 million tons of waste each year.
The usage of improved sanitation facilities and practices increased from 36 percent in 1990 to 78 percent in 2015. Thanks to UNICEF’s Community Approaches to Total Sanitation Program (CATS), people are actively involved with training sessions that improve understanding and awareness.
Poor habits affect health and environment, which is knowledge taken for granted in places where clean water and privacy are readily available.
It’s difficult to imagine living without basic sanitation methods. The price of toilets in some communities is almost $150. Rural families cannot afford this basic need, but CATS ensures affordable toilets are supplied to rural markets.
However, 3.7 million people still do not have access to toilets. A quarter is still using open methods of defecation. This exposes people to diseases and makes them vulnerable.
Even so, the use of open defecation has declined from 39 percent to one percent. One in 10 rural communities still practice this habit. It risks contaminating water sources. Vietnam has succeeded in turning 250 villages away from this unhealthy behavior.
Cities such as Dong Hoi, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang were assisted by Vietnam’s Coastal Cities Environmental Sanitation Project to improve management of solid waste. Rural-urban migration is turning Vietnam into an urbanized country. This is adding to its economic vitality.
Rehabilitation is not rare. Flooding of urban areas causes places to become uninhabitable. This is due to the lack of upkeep and results in sewage on the streets. Coastal Cities Environmental Sanitation Project is working today to maintain these issues.
In 2012, water safety plans became mandatory in Vietnam’s 68 water suppliers. This eliminates possible contamination and helps to prevent it all together. UNICEF is supporting training for the implementation of these plans in rural areas.
Vietnam is now living up to WHO’s standards for quality drinking water.
By the end of 2014, 250,000 citizens lived in flood-free zones. Waste collection and sanitation has been provided to 800,000 people. In recent years, 66,500 students attended school with improved sanitation facilities. Funding has supplied 8,400 poor families with upgraded toilets.
The World Bank recently approved of $190 million toward improving methods working closely with Dong Hoi, Quy Nhon and Nha Trang. The goal of the investment is to mobilize resources and expand outreach. The GEF’s $5 million aims to support new and innovative technologies aiding the cause.
Piped water lines only reach 10 percent of rural households and 61 percent of urban homes. With commitments toward public awareness, investment, and sustainability, Vietnam hopes to have water and sanitation readily available to the entire population by 2030.
– Katie Groe