Water and Sanitation
Despite a dramatic decline in child mortality and the incidence of communicable diseases, water and sanitation related diseases remain a major health problem in Viet Nam. Diarrhoea is one of the leading causes of morbidity nationwide, with some 250,000 hospitalizations a year. As many as 44 percent of Vietnamese children are infected with whipworms, hookworms or roundworms, according to recent estimates. Partly as a consequence, Viet Nam is maintaining one of the highest rates of child malnutrition in East Asia.
Although Viet Nam has made rapid progress in improving its water supply situation over the past decades, many parts of the country – especially those areas heavily populated with ethnic minority groups and rural remote and often poorest communities – have been left behind.
Progress towards providing access to sanitation and hygiene has been especially slow. A recent survey on sanitation situation revealed that 52 per cent of rural population having some sort of sanitation facilities, however, only 18 per cent of them have access to latrines that meet hygienic standard of the Ministry of Health Decision 08/2005/QD-BYT. The same survey indicates that only 12 per cent schools have hygienic sanitation facilities.
Water quality, particularly the contamination of groundwater with arsenic, remains a serious emerging issue.
Under the Country Program of Cooperation (2006-2010) between the Government of Viet Nam and UNICEF, the Water, Environment and Sanitation (WES) programme places particular emphasis on:
Advocacy, Communication and Participation: UNICEF supports the Government to draw lessons and experiences through research/ assessment, documentation and piloting models to improve the efficiency of project activities and to add values in the implementation and development of National Strategy on Rural Water and Sanitation and the related Governments 2nd National Target Programme for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (NTP II). UNICEF also encourages the participation of the community in planning, implementation and management of rural water and sanitation facilities through various communication activities.
Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion: Sanitation and hygiene must be given urgent attention. Many national and international agencies, including UNICEF, have called for a separate national action plan for sanitation and hygiene. Such a plan would attract broad levels of attention, help secure additional resources for sanitation and hygiene, and thus help Viet Nam achieve related Viet Nam and Millennium Development Goals. In addition to this, UNICEF also supports development of cost effective community focussed approaches for hygiene and sanitation promotions, as well as development of appropriate technology options, and national guidelines and standards.
Model Building: UNICEF helps to develop and replicate models to improve the access to safe water, upgrade sanitation facilities and promote hygiene education for the poorest rural families and disadvantage ethnic minority groups. UNICEF also supports the Government to develop child-friendly water and sanitation facilities for kindergartens and schools.
Water Quality and Arsenic Mitigation: UNICEF provides support to the Government in studies and surveys on arsenic contamination and its impacts on people’s health. UNICEF continues to take the leading role in this area including development and replication of arsenic mitigation models, development of new and simple community based water quality monitoring with wide application of user-friendly water test kits, at the same time promoting strong coordinated efforts under the umbrella of the national Arsenic Mitigation Action Plan.
Monitoring and Evaluation: Based on its own WATERmapper monitoring system, UNICEF continues its lead role in supporting the development of a national Rural Water Supply and Sanitation monitoring and evaluation system for tracking progress towards meeting the master plan for rural water and sanitation as well as the MDGs/VDGs indicators relating to water and sanitation.
Disaster Preparedness and Response: UNICEF continues and further develops activities integrating with child safety by providing knowledge and services to sub-national institutions/levels and primary stakeholders.
PARTNERSHIPSBeside the cooperation with International agencies, UNICEF Viet Nam’s Water, Environment and Sanitation programme works closely with the National Government counterparts such as the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Ministry of Education and Training, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, Provincial Centers of Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Provincial Departments of Preventive Medicine as well as mass organizations including Viet Nam Women’s Union, Farmers’ Association and Youth Union. UNICEF is also an active member of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partnership under MARD, as well in the WATSAN working group.