Australian runner asks Vietnam to protect its water

TN News

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Pat Farmer (front row, middle) crosses the My Thuan Bridge in the Mekong Delta's Vinh Long Province during a marathon through Vietnam that aimed to raise awareness of clean water issues in Vietnam earlier this year. 

Australian marathon runner Pat Farmer, who just finished running through Vietnam as part of a project to raise awareness of clean water issues, has urged his friends in Vietnam to help protect the country's clean water resources.

He said the country's rich water sources needed to be protected not only for Vietnamese, but for people all over the world as a global water security crisis looms over the planet.

Vietnam is not short on water, but it does lack of clean water, Farmer told Tuoi Tre in a report March 3, recalling his 40-day marathon that began at one of the northern tips of Vietnam in Trang Vi and ended at the Cua Lon River in the southernmost province of Ca Mau January 17.

He said he was running to raise support for clean water projects, and thus paid attention to water issues during the journey.

The former member of the Australian House of Representatives said that water issues and related matters such as hydropower, dams and islands could be the source of major problems to many countries, including Vietnam, in the future.

As a marathon athlete, he was invited by the Asian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Sydney to run in Vietnam also to celebrate 40 years of Vietnam and Australian relations and create water awareness among young people.

The race opened his eyes, he said via phone from Sydney.

The 50-year-old found that Vietnam is a country of rivers and canals, with almost one bridge per kilometer of road.

But many remote areas do not have clean water, and are not aware of the danger in using unclean water, while many people and organizations are polluting the country's clean water resources, he said.

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Farmer said Vietnam will need a long-term project to raise  awareness, among the public and the government, about clean water, but added that people should not feel discouraged as Australia was in the same position more than 20 yers ago, but it has cleaned up its act.

Vietnam can start by protecting its upstream areas to provide cleaner water in the future, he said, noting that the country could save itself and many people in the world.

He cited figures from the Australian Red Cross: around 880 million pepple in the world have no access to clean water, and some four million people are killed every year by diseases related to water shortages and pollution, including 4,000 children under 5 years old every day.

A country with as much water as Vietnam must have the responsibility of keeping its water clean to share with or export to other countries, he said.

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