It is estimated that 20 million people living in rural areas do not have
access to proper toilets, a report by the Economics of Sanitation
Initiative (ESI) run by the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Programme
revealed on May 25.
The four-year study was launched in 2007 in two phases.
Guy Hutton, a World Bank's senior economist, said the first phase of
the study, which ended in 2008, showed that Vietnam suffered economic
losses of 780 million USD each year due to poor sanitation.
The second phase focused on analysing the benefits and costs of better
sanitation in six countries – Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Lao,
Philippines and Vietnam.
"The benefits of using hygienic
latrines include reducing disease infection rates due to poor sanitation
and improving water supply quality due to the decrease in open
defecation," said Nguyen Viet Anh, the study's consulting team leader.
Better protection for the environment is also believed to be another benefit, Anh said.
The study showed that sanitation quality had a direct link to tourism and economic development.
Under a recent small-scale survey, general sanitation conditions in
Vietnam were perceived to be poor, scoring just 2.9 out of maximum of
5.0, the lowest acceptable score for an urban environment. The quality
of toilets available in public places such as bus stations also scored
The main hygiene concerns of foreign tourists relate to tap water and food safety.
Guy Hutton said the study aimed to provide sanitation-decision makers
with useful information when it came to formulating better hygiene
policies, especially in rural areas where more than 30 percent of the
population still lack basic sanitation.
The authorised agencies are advised to raise funds to provide better sanitation services, he said.-VNA