Better Access to Safe Water and Sanitation

The National Water and Sanitation Week 2011 was launched on 26 April in the Dien Bien province – one of the poorest provinces in the country – in order to raise  wareness of the importance of water and sanitation in daily life.

At the event – which included participation of both government officials, donors’ representatives, thousands of local people, students and pupils – the Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that during the past 10 years, the national programme for rural water supply and sanitation had made significant progress on increasing rural access to safe water with an estimated coverage of 83 pct by the end of 2010.

However, with only around 60 pct. of the rural population having access to latrines, sanitation is one of the two off-track Millennium Development Goals in Vietnam. Accordingly, the government has to change its way of thinking and doing sanitation if success is to be gained.

One of the innovative approaches to promote sanitation and personal hygiene is the recent selection of Mr. Xuan Bac, one of the most famous comedian in the country, to be the Goodwill Ambassador of Water and Sanitation. Messages on water, sanitation and personal hygiene in the form of comedy have the potential of influencing people’s behaviour – especially pupils – better than academic top-down lectures.

Also present at the event, the comedian rocked the atmosphere with his humorous ways of engaging people into good sanitation practices.

During her speech presented at the event, Mrs. Lis Rosenholm, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Denmark in Vietnam, stressed the importance of water and sanitation for the rural population to ensure that the welfare, quality of life, health and economic possibilities for the rural poor and the ethnic minorities do not continue to be compromised by inadequate access to water supply and sanitation.” said Mrs. Lis Rosenholm.

Denmark has been supporting the water and sanitation sector since the 1990s. For the past five years, Denmark has joined with Australia, the Netherlands and the U.K to support the national programme on water and sanitation. With the progress and results of the current cooperation in the sector, Denmark is considering a continued three-year support to the programme when the current support completes at the end of 2011.

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