The World Bank (WB) has said that Vietnam loses about 780 million USD per year (equivalent to 1.3% GDP) due to poor sanitation, the English language online newspaper VietNamNet Bridge reported.

According to the WB, the management of domestic waste water in Vietnam has many problems which must be solved quickly. The report said that about 60% of households are connected to the public sewer system, but only 10% of the wastewater is treated.

By 2012, the three major cities in Vietnam - Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang – had 17 urban wastewater drainage and treatment systems, serving part of the population in the inner areas. The remaining households still directly discharge wastewater into the environment.

The WB estimated that Vietnam needs up to 8.3 billion USD to provide adequate sewer services to approximately 36 million urban people by 2025.

Given that poor sanitation is causing damage to the economy, according to the World Bank, investment in this industry brings about high profit.

Research by the World Health Organisation shows that 1 USD investment in sanitation will provide 8 USD of profit for the economy. However, Vietnam lacks adequate policies to encourage investment in this sector.

Most drainage and wastewater treatment firms do not own the facilities but they operate these facilities by order of the government, using state funding. Therefore, these companies cannot develop or seek ways to optimize the facilities because they have to seek approval from the superiors for such plans.

This process is time consuming and can affect sewer services. This is also the reason why these firms are not interested in the benefits from raising public awareness - who are affected but also are the force major impact on environmental sanitation.

As recommended by the WB, Vietnam should develop policies to encourage the model public-private partnership and the participation of the private sector in the field of environmental sanitation.

Wastewater attacks water resources

The Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Environment and Natural Resources said that the Saigon - Dong Nai river system as well as the system of canals in the city are polluted mainly by domestic wastewater, instead of river industrial wastewater as before.

The amount of wastewater is estimated at 1.2 million m3/day, while the city has only one urban wastewater treatment plant with a capacity of 150,000 m3/day. This plant always has trouble with technology so the process of wastewater causes air pollution.

It is expected that Ho Chi Minh City will build 11 wastewater treatment plants.-VNA