Providing Clean Water for 1.3 Million Rural Residents in Vietnam

April 10, 2014

Between 2005 and 2013, the Red River Delta Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project provided access to clean water for nearly 1.3 million people in four provinces in Vietnam through community-based approaches. Local residents play an active role in planning, raising funds and monitoring the project. Through a revolving fund managed by the Women's Union, households received access to low-interest loans to build or rehabilitate more than 48,000 hygienic toilets and sanitation facilities.


In 2004, only 48% of rural households in Vietnam had access to clean water, compared to 82% of urban households. It was estimated that only 16% of rural households had access to water supply meeting clean water standards; and access to hygienic sanitation facilities was equally low. Many rural households used untreated water from dug wells, rivers, ponds, streams or irrigation canals. Existing rural water supply and sanitation schemes tended to be inappropriately designed as well as poorly constructed and maintained. In many cases, schemes were deemed financially unsustainable as tariffs did not adequately cover the cost of operation, maintenance and repairs; and were dependent on substantial subsidies to continue operation.

In 2002, nearly 3 million people in the Red River Delta were poor (17 percent of all poor households in Vietnam). In these areas, poor rural health was affected by the prevalence of water-borne diseases and inadequate personal hygiene. The underlying cause of these health issues was related to the availability and use of safe water and sanitation and personal hygiene.


Where most water projects have traditionally focused exclusively on the construction of hardware for water schemes, this project also recognized that educating and changing behavior of the community on water and sanitation issues is vital to success.
The water supply schemes under the project have been established under innovative enterprises, which have the capacity for proper management and operation. The community also has a 10 percent stake in these companies, which has ensured a strong sense of community ownership and commitment, as well as deep community involvement in the planning, supervision, construction, operation and maintenance of the schemes. This practice has ensured that the needs of the community and the quality of services required are met in a transparent and participatory way.
The project also focused on intensive activities to promote hygienic behaviors such as hand washing, as well as developing a revolving fund for low-income families to build hygienic toilets for their homes.


Between 2005 and 2013, the project achieved the following outcomes:

• Almost 1.3 million people, accounting for 80 percent of total population in 4 project provinces gained access to improved water sources and 100 percent of poor households  had access to water supply and sanitation services.
• Households received access to low-interest loans to build or rehabilitate more than 48,000 hygienic toilets and sanitation facilities, increasing the percentage of households with hygienic toilets from 25 percent to 87 percent.
• More than 650 public sanitation facilities were built for local schools and health stations.
• About 90 percent of households were reported to be highly satisfied with services.
• Surveys indicated a pronounced behavior change in increased number of households reporting hand washing prior to food preparation or after using sanitation facilities. Most households use hygienic water containers such as a basin/bucket and place them in convenient places for their use. More than 96% have soap or detergent for washing hands.

" Since we got clean water, our life has improved much, our house and all facilities are much cleaner. We no longer have problems with skin-related diseases. We have developed a habit of using clean water and washing hands with soap after using the toilet or before cooking. "

Doan Thi Hop,

Resident of Nam My Commune, Nam Truc District, Nam Dinh Province

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank provided an IDA credit of US$45.87 million. In the wake of the global financial crisis and at the request of the Vietnamese government, IDA provided additional financing of US$65.27 million in 2010.


The government of Denmark provided a grant to support project preparation through a component of its Water Sector Support Project. Through its country program for Vietnam, the Water and Sanitation Program provided technical inputs and led the Bank’s preparation team for the project. Various agencies of the Government of Vietnam, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning and Investment, Ministry of Construction, Vietnam Development Bank closely collaborated with the World Bank to invest in capacity building and organizing projects. The Women’s Union and water supply enterprises in four participating provinces played key roles in implementing the project on the ground.

Moving Forward

The successful model of this project is now being expanded into a national program supported by a "Program for Results" (PforR) project with $131.5 million IDA credit. This approach links funds directly to results, ensuring that benefits will be delivered to those in need more efficiently. Under the National Target Program, this project aims to increase sustained access to water supply and sanitation services and improve sector planning, monitoring and evaluation in the participating provinces. The integrated approach used in the project, which included rural water and sanitation enterprises, hygiene promotion, sanitation financing and efficient civil works contracts, has been incorporated into Asian Development Bank’s rural water supply and sanitation work in Central Vietnam.

100 percent
of poor households in the project area had access to water supply and sanitation services.