Water, sanitation and hygiene
Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival and development of children in Viet Nam.
Lack of access to WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) remains a major challenge affecting children in rural Viet Nam. Clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival and development of children, yet many in Viet Nam are still at risk from water and sanitation-related diseases.
Although the country has made rapid progress in improving water supplies, many parts of the country – especially areas heavily populated with ethnic minority groups and remote communities – have been left behind. This lack of access to water, along with poor sanitation and hygiene practices, still contributes to high rates of diarrhea, pneumonia and parasitic infections.
Open defecation is still commonly practiced in rural communities and coupled with the use of sub-standard latrines, more than 9.5 million people still release excreta into their surroundings - contaminating water sources. Low levels of handwashing with soap at key moments are still registered in poor households and for ethnic minority groups, while diarrhea is responsible for 10 per cent of under-5 child mortality.
All children have the right to clean water and basic sanitation, as stated in the Convention on the Rights of a Child.
With its focus on equity, UNICEF in partnership with government is working to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation as well as Viet Nam’s global commitments to become open defecation free by 2025, realize clean water and improved sanitation for all by 2030 and improve hand washing practices.
To achieve these goals, at national level we are helping implementing of a national plan of action to eliminate open defecation, advocate for inclusion of sanitation targets in national Socio-Economic Development Plans and intensify implementation of the “National Programme of Water Safety Plan” for safe and sustainably-managed water and sanitation.
WASH is also a key tenet of the innovative Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) project in three provinces (Dien Bien, Gia Lai and Kon Tum), a life-cycle approach that maximizes the impact of early childhood support for children from conception to their eighth birthday.
This initiative will focus on pre-schools and health facilities to reach the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children with sanitation and hygiene promotion in communities to achieve ‘Open Defecation Free’ status. In natural disaster-prone south-central Ninh Thuan province, WASH will play a key role in increasing the capacity for children’s and their communities’ disaster risk reduction and resilience when responding to extreme weather events. All initiatives and successful models are designed for expansion and scaling up.
The ‘WASH in Schools’ project in the southern Mekong Delta province of An Giang is also being expanded to northern Dien Bien province, where an estimated 70 per cent of the population does not have access to sanitation facilities, to reach 35,000 children at 60 schools by 2020.
More than 80 per cent of schools in Viet Nam have water and sanitation facilities, many are not fully operational or are in a state of disrepair.