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Environmental Issues in Vietnam

Urbanisation, planning, industrialisation, and intensive farming are having a negative impact on Vietnam’s environment. These factors have led to air pollution, water pollution, and noise pollution, particularly in urban and industrial centres like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The most serious problem is waste treatment. Land use pressures have led to significant environmental problems, including severe deforestation, soil erosion, sedimentation of rivers, flooding in the deltas, declining fish yields, and pollution of the coastal and marine environment. The use of Agent Orange by the US military in the Vietnam War (1954-75) has had a lingering effect on Vietnam in the form of persistent environmental contamination that has increased the incidence of various diseases and birth defects.

Fresh water is accessible to 99% of the citizens in the range of 1 km. Water supply with tap water in large cities such as Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi cover nearly 100% whereas in smaller cities often face a coverage of less than 60%. In rural areas fresh water in the range of 1 km is accessible for 75%. But only 51% of rural households are having hygienic latrines. Around 60% of the Water Producing Companies (WPCs) are involved in the water market in urban areas. However the supply so far is in the hands of the Government. The WPCs reduce their activities to the production of water.

In the rural areas, hand dug wells remain the most important source of water as 39%-44% still rely on it. Only 10% of the rural population is supplied with piped water.

Water pollution causes the greatest damage in the Mekong Delta. The delta is considered as Vietnam´s rice bowl. Water pollution caused by the rapid growing industry results in high rates of diarrhoea since most people in this region depend on surface water of the river.

Common water-borne diseases in Vietnam are cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, bacterial diarrhoea, hepatitis A, etc. In the case of cholera, even though the number of death caused by cholera hasn’t been more than two since 1996, the number of reported cases of cholera is still significantly high. Caused by drinking water contaminated by bacterium, the number of reported cholera is well above 500, reaching 1,900 in 2007, and 600 in 2010. The fatality rate of cholera has been close to 0% since 1999. In 2009, the number of diarrhoeal diseases reported was 296,000 in total. According to the World Health Organisation, the number of water, sanitation and hygiene attributable death in 2004 in Vietnam was 5,938. A surprising fact was that out of 5,938 deaths, 4,905 were children under five years which means that the children were the main victims of the water, sanitation and hygiene problem.





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