5 million Vietnamese lack standard toilets

By Phuong Trang   November 21, 2016 | 02:00 am GMT+7
5 million Vietnamese lack standard toilets
Hmong families at a Vietnamese live-animal market. Photo by Reuters/Kham

Environmental problems caused by poor sanitation cost Vietnam around $780 mln/year.

Vietnam is facing numerous environmental problems caused by poor sanitation, said Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, top official from the health ministry during a meeting on November 19, otherwise known as World Toilet Day.

The country loses about $780 million per year -- equivalent to 1.3 percent of GDP -- due to poor sanitation, according to the World Bank.

Huong said that last year, 35 per cent of families in rural areas lacked access to standard toilets. More than five million people (5.5 percent of the total population) defecated in the open environment.

Fish ponds continue to serve as toilets in the Mekong Delta, the center of Vietnam's agricultural and aquacultural output.

5-million-vietnamese-lack-standard-toilets

A toilet suspended over a fish pond in the Mekong Delta. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Health

Huong attributed a lack of sanitation facilities to poor public awareness and a lack of attention from local authorities.

Poor sanitation has resulted in numerous preventable diseases among Vietnamese children and significant economic losses.

During the meeting, Friday Nwaigwe of the The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), said 10-12 percent of Vietnamese children under 5 contract diarrhea and pneumonia. A third of child deaths are related to malnutrition brought out on by diarrhea and parasitic worms.

Vietnam plans to ensure that all residential households have standard toilets by 2030.

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