More than 7.5 million people in four cities, Nam Dinh, Hai Phong, Can Tho and Ho Chi Minh City, have been the direct and indirect beneficiaries of the Vietnam Urban Upgrading Project, which was carried out over the past 10 years.

According to data released during the closing ceremony of the project organised in HCM City on December 19, the project used 382.5 million USD from the World Bank through ODA (Official Development Assistance) loans, 140 million USD from the Vietnamese Government and 30 million USD from the public.

Keiko Sato, portfolio operations manager for the World Bank in Vietnam, said infrastructure improvements had opened up opportunities for the local residents.

Speaking at a meeting of World Bank's officials and the four city leaders on December 19, Keiko said the ODA funds had been used very effectively.

Hoang Thi Hoa, a senior urban specialist at the World Bank, and the project's mission team leader, said project targets had been reached, changing the living conditions of millions of people. The project's key indicators went beyond the initial targets, she added.

Poverty in the four participating cities fell by 20 to 80 percent between 2006 and 2014.

Since 2004, 200 low-income areas have been upgraded, alleviating urban poverty for over 2.5 million people in low-income areas and indirectly benefiting 5 million others.

About 500km of tertiary drainage and 580km road have been upgraded or newly built, helping to improve the environment and reduce flooding in the project areas.

It is estimated that 30,000 households were provided conditions to access clean water, and 550,000 households were connected to the sewer system.

About 95,000 micro-loans for house improvement and income generation were provided to households, with very high repayment rates and sound financial management.

According to data from the World Bank, most civil works and packages, with a total of 432 contracts in all four cities, have been completed.

The project is now mainly focused on final disbursement and accounting.

There has been significant progress in cleaning up canals, particularly in HCM City and Can Tho, including minor pending civil works identified in the previous mission.

In HCM City, the 13 contractors for the Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal have completed most of the construction, except for two packages, according to the report.

At the meeting, Le Hoang Quan, Chairman of HCM City People's Committee, invited World Bank leaders and officials to attend the inauguration of Tan Hoa - Lo Gom Canal sanitation project on March 15.

"HCM City wants World Bank support for the implementation of the second phase of the Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe, Tan Hoa – Lo Gom Canals projects, which will focus on waste water treatment. With experience learned from implementing the projects during the past decade, I believe the projects' second phase will give much better results," Quan said.

The two canals, which run through 18 districts, have received much attention and priority from the Government and World Bank.

He said the projects had helped improve the living quality of residents and had met the World Bank's requirements.

"Sometimes, we think it's hard to overcome and finish projects due to so many challenges," Quan added.

Five years ago, roughly eight kilometres of Tan Hoa – Lo Gom Canal was the most polluted canal in the city, affecting living conditions of five million people.

The Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe, Tan Hoa – Lo Gom Canals run through 100 wards and communes of the city, with three million people living along them.-VNA