It is projected that Vietnam will need to invest about 8.3 billion USD in urban liquid waste collection and treatment from now until 2025, said a senior urban management specialist.

Le Duy Hung, head of the research team on "Assessment for urban wastewater management in Vietnam" report published by the World Bank, made the affirmation in an article on the Vietnam Business Forum - the weekly magazine of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry on February 20.

Two reports announced by the World Bank recently showed that to develop the economy sustainably, improve public health and reduce environmental impact, East Asian cities need to address the existing problems in sanitation. They should have necessary funds to develop infrastructure and ensure sustainable service delivery to meet the needs of urban residents. According to forecasts, in the next 15 years, countries in the region need to invest at least 250 USD per person per year.

"Assessment for Urban Sanitation in East Asia - Pacific: The necessary action" is a report of in-depth research on urban sanitation problems in three countries in the East Asia - Pacific region, namely Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The report studied the factors that hinder the development of urban environmental sanitation and proposed measures to those countries and other countries in the region to expand and improve urban sanitation services in a comprehensive and sustainable way.

"Worldwide, there are about 2.5 billion people living in poor sanitary conditions, in which 660 million people (over 25 percent) live in the East Asia-Pacific region," said Charles Feinstein, Director of Energy and Water Board of the World Bank.

"Poor sanitation causes serious effects on the lives of people, environment and economy. But the good news is that investment in environmental hygiene brings high profits."

The "Assessment for urban wastewater management in Vietnam" report focuses on the challenges that Vietnam is facing due to environmental contamination caused by fast urbanisation process. It assesses the performance of wastewater treatment works in Vietnam and proposes recommendations to policy makers in central and local governments, and service providers.

"In the last 20 years, the Government of Vietnam has made progress in the work of urban waste water treatment, and in recent years has invested about 250 million USD per year in this area," said Hung. "However, to meet the rapid urbanisation process remains a challenge in this field. It is estimated that from now until 2025, Vietnam needs to invest about 8.3 billion USD on collection and treatment of urban waste water."

Poor sanitary conditions caused serious impact on public health in the countries in the region, including chronic diseases caused by diarrhea and the risk of infectious diseases such as cholera. Poor sanitary condition also causes environmental pollution. The urbanisation process is rapid in East Asia, in which cities in the region are the leading economic engines. However, each year, poor sanitation costs Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia 1.3 percent, 1.5 percent and 2.3 percent of the GDP, respectively.

In order to develop healthy, clean and prosperous cities, Vietnam should develop policies on people, including the integration of sanitation solutions into the city's development plan to eliminate waterborne diseases and improve environmental conditions; design and implement communication strategy to inform the public about the benefits of keeping sanitation as these are important factors for change in this area.

In addition, it is necessary to promote technical solutions, such as prioritise the collection and treatment of wastewater and sludge because they are pathogens. Analysis shows that such an approach is necessary because most people in urban areas have access to toilet but no human waste is collected and disposed appropriately. In addition, we need to implement environmental policy in a smart way to ensure that the instability caused by floods and climate change is included in the wastewater management plan, and use the products that are environmental-friendly such as biosolids which can be reused as fuel or for agricultural purposes.

In particular, according to the reports, those countries need to develop sustainable institutions to ensure quality of service, which must ensure sufficient institutional capacity to develop and implement plans to protect the environment city​, including concerns of the poor, integrated with urban water management by combining water and wastewater business because these are two areas related to each other and support the development of management mechanisms at the local level to ensure service quality.

At the same time, they need to build feasible financial plans to ensure public resources for investment capital, and develop spending policy framework priorities in investment. Public spending must be included in the financial plan of the central and local governments. They also need to maximise the use of the public contributions to meet operational costs for phasing out the dependence on subsidies to ensure that urban residents have access to financial services.-VNA