Vietnam water, sanitation program gets additional funding

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Vietnam's National Target Program for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation received an additional commitment of £17 million (US$27.4 million) in grant funding from the UK on Friday, a statement said.

The program has been jointly funded by the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program, the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Netherlands Minister for Development Cooperation with a total commitment of $125 million.

The initial focus of the program for the 2005-2010 period has been on providing access to water and sanitation for public entities, with 75 percent of schools, 77 percent health clinics, 67 percent commune committee offices and 45 percent markets now served, according to the statement.

"In joining other donors in co-funding this program, we recognize the commitment of the government of Vietnam and look forward to working together to support sustained progress over the next 3 years, focusing especially on sanitation for poor households," said Fiona Louise Lappin, head of the UK Department for International Development Vietnam.

"Vietnam has made great strides in socio-economic development," she said. "But slow progress in meeting the sanitation target will compromise further poverty reduction, particularly for the ethnic minorities."

Less than 2 percent of the poorest in Vietnam have a toilet and only one in six people in rural areas wash their hands with soap, the statement cited recent statistics as saying.

Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, Nguyen Bich Dat, said Vietnam highly appreciated the support from international donors, "who have provided not only funding but also technical assistance and valuable recommendations to help run the program more efficiently."

"The program has made significant progress and brought important changes to the lives of poor people in rural areas," he said.

The government is now developing the 2011-2015 plan for the program, which will concentrate on rural sanitation and personal hygiene.

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