National week on safe water, rural sanitation begins; Two more cases of acute diarrhoea in HCM City; EU helps make small enterprises go green; Cisco helps Da Nang develop IT system
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) launched an annual national week on rural clean water and environmental sanitation in Khoi Ky commune, Dai Tu district, in the northern mountain province of Thai Nguyen on April 22.
The ministry said the event is very significant this year as 2010 has been selected as the year of ‘Clean water for a healthy world’. This is particularly important in Vietnam, which is among the five countries most vulnerable to climate change.
After the launch ceremony, health experts showed children how to correctly wash their hands with soap, while young people cleaned schools and streets.
On the occasion, construction of a VND 7.9-billion clean water supply station started in Khoi Ky commune.
Once operational in 2011, the station is expected to provide safe water to more than 3,100 people as well as offices, schools and health clinics in the commune.
According to the the National Programme on Rural Clean Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation, 79 percent of rural people nation-wide are using hygienic water; however, only 39 percent of them are given water that meets the Ministry of Health’s standards.
Roundtable on UN MDGs in Da Nang
A roundtable was held in the central city of Da Nang on April 23 to raise the voice of non-governmental organisations in Asia to help the United Nations evaluate implementation of its millennium development goals (MDGs).
The conference was attended by leaders and representatives of the UN NGO Informal Regional Network (UN-ORG-IRENE) in the Asia and Pacific region, the International Association of the Economic and Social Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS), the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Association of MDG Trainers (AIFOMD), the ASEAN Regional Centre of Excellence for MDGs (ARCMDG), the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Japan Peace Boat. It also attracted delegates from Cambodia, China, the Republic of Korea, Brunei, Laos, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Delegates shared information about implementation of MDGs, with a focus on gender equality and increasing the empowerment of women. They proposed necessary measures to be taken at the national-, regional- and international levels to meet the 2015 deadline, and adopted the Da Nang Statement on gender equality to be formally submitted to the ECOSOC.
In her opening speech, Nguyen Thi Binh, head of the Vietnam Peace and Development Foundation, noted that women who represent half of the world’s population play a decisive role in various aspects of life, from the causes of peace and freedom to national sovereignty and independence, the environment, climate change and the continuation of the human race.
The world will be better and people will be happier if women are provided with suitable conditions to fulfil their obligations towards their families and society, said Ms Binh.
However, she said, society has not yet taken full advantage of women’s capacity in these areas.
She stressed that gender equality must be the common concern of the international community now that the world has big international organisations such as the United Nations to protect women’s rights.
In 2000, 189 heads of State agreed to sign a UN Declaration to meet millennium development goals by 2015, covering poverty reduction, universal primary education, child mortality reduction, maternal health, gender equality, the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, environmental sustainability and establishment of a global partnership for development.
This year, the UN will review implementation of MDGs and introduce measures to speed up the fulfilment of the goals.
Two more cases of acute diarrhoea in HCM City
HCM City confirmed two more cases of acute diarrhoea on April 23, bringing the total number of infected cases to 9.
The latest two cases are Dang Thi Thu Ha, 19, and Chau Thi Be My, 19 months old, who live in a village on Tran Xuan Soan Street, Tan Thuan Tay Ward, District No7.
Nguyen Huu Hung, director of the District No7 Preventive Medical Centre, said the two patients remain in stable condition.
Several days ago, a man and his son in the village were also infected with bacterium Vibrio Cholerae.
Ba Ria-Vung Tau to develop quality human resources
Ba Ria -Vung Tau needs to fully tap human and land resources to foster its socio-economic development.
The National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Phu Trong made the request during a working trip to the oil-rich province on April 23.
He praised Ba Ria-Vung Tau’s socio-economic achievements, with an annual average GDP growth rate of 19.5 percent and large flow of foreign direct investment, with a combined capital of US$25 billion in 260 projects.
To prepare for Party congresses at all levels leading up to the 11th National Party Congress, the province needs to build on its successes and overcome its shortcomings so as to set its own development directions based on its potential and in line with the development strategies of the entire Party for the next decade.
At the working session, the chief legislator and provincial authorities discussed a number of issues in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, including those regarding health care, education, employment, improvement of local people’s living conditions, and development of the marine-based economy.
EU helps make small enterprises go green
A project entitled ‘Sustainable product innovation in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia’ was launched in Hanoi on April 22 to help small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) get oriented toward green growth.
The EUR 2.3 million project is funded by the SWITCH-in-Asia Programme under the European Union that benefits 500 SMEs operating in food packaging, apparel, footwear, handicrafts and furniture in the three countries.
Sean Doyle, Ambassador and Head of the EU mission in Vietnam, said he expects the project to help boost sustainable production and consumption in Vietnam and make practical contributions to legislation when the Vietnamese Government is drafting its socio-economic strategy for the 2011-2020 period.
Under the project, a representative office will be opened in Hanoi in connection with assistance offices in Vientiane (Laos), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).
The offices will serve as a stable network to provide SMEs with assistance in managing and conducting relevant research and supplying information toward environmentally-friendly products and marketing.
Cisco helps Da Nang develop IT system
Cisco Systems Inc. signed a memorandum of understanding with the central city of Da Nang on April 22 to upgrade its information technology network.
Under the MoU, Cisco will help Da Nang build a centre for researching, developing and manufacturing hi-tech products and train human resources to develop its economy in a sustainable manner.
This is a new initiative launched by the World Bank aimed at helping big cities in developing countries to achieve sustainable economic and ecological development.
Cisco and Da Nang signed an MoU in 2007, under which the US company pledged to help Da Nang take the lead in applying information technology in the country.
75 scholarships to study in India
Vietnam’s Ministry of Education and Training has announced it will provide 75 scholarships for post-graduate study in India under a technical and economic co-operation programme for the 2010-2011 academic year.
The Indian Government will finance tuition and air tickets while the Vietnamese Government will provide living expenses to students who receive the scholarships. Recipients who do not complete the programme or decline to serve the country when they return home must repay their scholarship.
Applicants must be Vietnamese residents aged 25-45 who have graduated from university, work for State-owned enterprises and speak fluent English.
Applicants should submit their profile to the Ministry of Education and Training, 21 Le Thanh Tong, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi. For more information go to www.vied.vn or www.moet.gov.vn.
Vietnam-Germany cooperate in dealing with climate change
More than 200 delegates from Vietnamese and German agencies and businesses gathered in HCM City on April 21 for the first Germany-Vietnam economic conference on climate change and energy.
The conference was part of the “Germany Year in Vietnam” to mark the 35th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. It aimed to enhance bilateral economic ties, said German Ambassador to Vietnam Rolf Schulze.
Schulze read out a statement from former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who had planned to chair the conference but could not attend due to the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
Schroeder said in his statement that Vietnam is an ideal and important partner for Germany, who has strengths that can assist Vietnam to modernise its infrastructure, protect its environment, use alternative energies and upgrade its healthcare sector.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Vu Huy Hoang, welcomed the initiative by German businesses to hold such a conference, saying that both parties can help each other to overcome future difficulties and challenges.
Minister Hoang briefed the conference on Vietnam’s economy and highlighted Germany’s links with Vietnam in investment, trade and ODA projects.
Several representatives from the municipal People’s Committee, Siemens AG, EuroCham and the Metro Group stressed on the need to use effective, clean and alternative energies and models of sustainable production to overcome global climate change.
They also discussed the business prospects for German and European companies in Vietnam, particularly in climate change and energy.
German and other European businesses are expected to seek opportunities to cooperate with Vietnam and want to help Vietnam deal with climate change.
US assists Nam Dinh to fight against avian
The US will provide 229 vaccine refrigerators, 10 global positioning systems and vehicles to the northern province of Nam Dinh to aid its fight against the avian flu, said the local veterinary sub-department.
This is part of US aid for Nam Dinh in its project to transform its vaccination strategy against the highly pathogenic avian influenza with a focus on developing safe livestock farming practices and improving the capacity of the veterinary sector.
Until completion of the project in March 2011, the US will organize 10 training courses for all veterinary officers at ward and communal levels in Nam Dinh on how to use modern technology in information management and influenza control.
Ninh Van Hieu, Head of the provincial Veterinary Sub-department, said the virus is under control in Nam Dinh. The province has only discovered one infected site so far this year. Vaccination has got underway in the province to reduce the risk of transmission.
From now until mid-May, the province plans to use more than two million doses of vaccine for over 1.1 million ducks.
Over 90 percent of Central Highlands has access to electricity
The national electricity grid has so far expanded to 1,267 of the 1,327 hamlets in the Central Highlands or more than 90 percent of the total rural households in the region.
A conference on the results of the project was held in Dak Lak province on April 21 with the participation of Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai.
The State’s key power project, aimed at reducing poverty and boosting socio-economic development in the five Central Highland provinces, has a total capital of more than VND1.3 trillion – 85 percent of which comes from the state budget.
Under the project, which was approved by the government in 2006, the Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) group has been responsible for installing transformers and connecting medium- and low-tension electricity lines to households.
More rural areas access clean water
As many as 83 percent of the population in rural areas are expected to have access to clean water, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Dao Xuan Hoc.
This is a target of this year’s national programme on clean water and environmental hygiene in rural areas, which is part of phase 2 that runs from 2006 to 2010. The programme is designed to provide clean water and proper sanitation to 100 percent of rural residents by 2010.
If accomplished, the access to clean water will increase by four percent, when compared to last year’s figures.
The remaining areas where clean water had not been made availed to people include the remote areas in the northwestern provinces of Ha Giang and Cao Bang and the heavily salinated land in the Mekong Delta, said Nguyen Hong Quan from the ministry’s Department of Water Resources.
Australia, the Netherlands and Denmark are among the largest donors to this programme.
Nguyen Van Thuan, from the Australian Agency for International Development in Vietnam’s Water Programme Manager said: “The main challenges were with the operation and maintenance activities. In the previous plan for the first phase (2001-2005), there was no funds provided for operations and maintenance costs.”
He said, when reviewing the first phase, in many localities, there were many places where the water supply infrastructure had been finished, yet residents were not interested in applying to get connected to the pipeline. This resulted in the degradation of the infrastructure.
“Promoting involvement of more diverse participants, rather than promoting State agencies, may be a good solution,” Thuan said.
Deputy Minister Hoc said the ministry was establishing mechanisms that ask every economic sectors to take part in the clean water and environmental hygiene investment and development process.
Last year, 2.6 million people in the rural areas gained access to clean water, which brought the total amount of people with access to clean water in the country to 79 percent.
The budget for last year’s programme activities amounted to VND5.335 billion (US$270 million), with one-fifth of those funds being provided by international aid.
Currently, 59 out of 83 million people live in rural areas.
Norway helps clear unexploded ordinance
The Thua Thien-Hue provincial People’s Committee on April 21 announced a project to remove bombs and mines at an estimated cost of US$120,000.
The Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA)-funded project will be carried out in Hong Tien commune, Huong Tra district to help prevent fatalities and utilise land for agricultural cultivation.
Previously, the Thua Thien-Hue provincial People’s Committee had met with the Solidarity Service International (SODI), a German organisation. Both parties had signed a cooperation agreement on the removal of unexploded ordinance, as well as helping to eliminate hunger and reduce poverty.
Since 2008, the SODI has helped to clear 216 hectares in Quang Vinh, Quang Dien district. In 2010, the organisation is continuing to clear a further 150 hectares in Quang Loi commune, Quang Dien district.
The central province still has more than 500,000 hectares strewn with bombs and mines.