64% of the population in rural areas of Northern Vietnam does not have access to sanitation, and there are 5,500 indirect deaths per year attributed to this fact. Vietnam’s Ministry of Health estimated that from 900,000 annual births, 14,000 children die before the age of 5. 36% of these deaths could be prevented by improving the water, sanitation conditions and through basic hygiene practices.
CODESPA has been implementing its sanitation program since 2008 in Yen Bai province, being able to motivate more than 12.000 households to invest and use sanitation facilities. The improvement on their health has been clear, as the incidence of diarrhea has decreased 42% in the communities where the project has been developed.
Besides, through the sanitation project in Yen Bai we have also been able to improve the economic conditions of its population. By using the latrines, families can save up to US$15 a year in medical expenses and spend them on other aspects such as education or nutrition. In addition, 87 local construction workers have received training about health and building services and other kind of business.
CODESPA believes this change on hygiene and sanitation practices among Vietnamese population is possible and becomes sustainable given three conditions. To begin with, people must be convinced that sanitation is important for them and change their behavior accordingly. It is also essential that they can access to affordable sanitation products and services when and where they need it, through a sustainable network of microbusiness. Finally, and in order to spread the change among the rest of communities, the above outcomes have to be led by local authorities. These have been the main keys to our success in the sanitation project in Vietnam.