Illustrative photo (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – As water shortages have left critical impacts on the socio-economic development of rural areas, the Vietnam Institute of Fisheries Economics and Planning (VIFEP) has come up with a number of solutions to improving water supply and sanitation in underprivileged areas.

The VIFEP gave top priority to raising public awareness on the issues through enhancing dissemination, which covers information on health and environmental sanitation, water supply systems, financial support systems as well as efforts that can be made by society.

Local residents should be encouraged to use clean water and keep latrines hygienic while applying suitable measures to treat solid waste.

The VIFEP said that the Government should pay attention to developing human resources with a focus on the training of management capacity, consulting and communication skills, and water supply evaluating skills, among others.

In addition to recommending financial institutes and banks to provide rural residents with preferential loans to build water supply facilities, the VIFEP also suggested that local authorities need to mobilise capital to develop clean water supplies and sanitation systems. The institute considered these as basic measures to deal with water scarcity in rural areas across the country, as it encouraged the involvement of society.

According to statistics from the Labour Medicine and Environmental Sanitation Institute, about 17.2 million Vietnamese residents, accounting for 21.5 percent of the total population, are using untreated water, causing about 9,000 deaths every year. And nearly 200,000 others were diagnosed with cancers because of using polluted water.

Moreover, the average surface water per capita in Vietnam is estimated at 3,840 cubic metres per annum, which falls behind the International Water Resources Association (IWRA) standard of 4,000 cubic metres per year.

The Vietnam Environment Administration said that 30 percent of the population has not been aware of the importance of fresh water. Every day, over 300 water treatment plants are providing water for residential areas through treating millions of cubic metres of ground water, which is facing severe pollution due to large-scaled salt intrusion, heavy metal pollution and a lack of planning to protect the water supply.

According to reports from ministries, branches and provinces involved in the National Target Programme for Rural Water and Sanitation, by the end of 2011, 78 percent of the rural population had access to fresh water, but only 37 percent of them had water that passed national technical regulation on domestic water quality. About 52 percent of rural households had hygienic latrines and 39 percent of rural families had sanitary breeding facilities.-VNA