TA to Prepare Project to Improve Water Supply and Sanitation in Viet Nam Towns

News Release | 14 March 2005

MANILA, PHILIPPINES (14 March 2005) - ADB will prepare a project to improve water supply and sanitation in areas of the southern Central region of Viet Nam, through a technical assistance (TA) grant approved for US$950,000.

The TA, from the Japan Special Fund, financed by the Government of Japan, will prepare a feasibility study and design for the project, which would improve water supply and sanitation in 10-20 small and medium towns.

The region is one of the poorest areas of Viet Nam, with poverty levels higher than the national average. Inadequate water supply and sanitation is one of the most pressing issues facing the area's small and medium-sized towns.

"Lack of investments and deteriorated urban water supply and sanitation facilities have heightened environmental and health risks in several towns," says Januar Hakim, an ADB Urban Development Specialist. "They also inhibit social and economic development."

Most towns have either inadequate or no water supply system at all, with a maximum service coverage of 20%. A large proportion of the population uses water from contaminated or saline wells and surface sources. Many residents must resort to buying water for drinking and cooking from vendors or from residents connected to public water supplies at extremely high prices, often 5-20 times existing tariffs for public water supply.

The supply side is plagued with problems of inadequate management and lack of technical capacity, which lead to poor maintenance of the existing systems to the extent that most of them require replacement.

A severe lack of drainage was also evident in the towns, which leads to problems of flooding and difficulties in accessibility. Solid waste collection is lacking and, aside from the absence of sanitation facilities, there are also low levels of health awareness and education among the urban poor.

The planned project will include new water supply systems, rehabilitation and further extensions of existing systems, and community-based water supply systems where appropriate. Sanitation improvements will comprise drainage, sewage disposal, and solid waste management.

The TA will also ensure the planned project's compliance with social and environmental safeguards and assess the capacities of water supply and sanitation providers.

To make sure that the planned project is demand-driven and, therefore, sustainable, the TA will employ a participatory approach, conducting workshops and consultative meetings with various stakeholders to ensure broad-based participation and support for the project.

ADB has actively assisted Viet Nam's urban and water supply and sanitation sectors since 1993, with five loans approved totaling $304 million equivalent and several TA grants.

The Government will contribute $250,000 equivalent toward the TA's total cost of $1.2 million. The Ministry of Construction is the executing agency for the TA, which will be carried out over eight months to October 2005.