The UK Department for International Development (DFID) today announced that they are giving a £17 million grant to support the Vietnamese government’s programme to tackle the chronic shortage of latrines in the country.
Despite recent good progress, latest statistics show that less than 2% of the poorest in Vietnam have a toilet and only one in six people in rural areas wash their hands with soap. Many schools and clinics do not have any toilets at all, along with weak facilities for handwashing. But washing hands with soap is an incredibly effective health intervention: it reduces the incidence of diarrhoea by almost half and pneumonia by almost a quarter – and these two diseases are the biggest killers of children under 5.International Development Minister Mike Foster said: “Millions of lives are lost needlessly every year because people do not have access to a toilet or somewhere to wash their hands. The UK has already proved that good hygiene and building decent latrines dramatically reduces this loss of life. Our engagement in this programme will help save countless lives in Vietnam by providing them with the basic sanitation and means to enjoy healthier lives.”
The programme will help make sure that by 2010:
85% of the rural population use clean water.
70% of rural households have hygienic latrines.
70% of rural households have hygienic livestock pens.
All rural primary schools, kindergartens, nurseries and clinics have access to clean water and hygienic latrines.
Currently 2.5 billion people have little or no access to basic sanitation across the world.
RESULTS is currently calling on the leader of the G8 in 2010, Stephen Harper (Prime Minister of Canada) to ensure that sanitation and hygiene are properly prioritised in the international child health initiative that we expect to be announced at the G8 summit in the summer – see our earlier blog post for some of the correspondence that has been sent to Mr Harper. It is encouraging to hear DFID championing these effective interventions, and we hope that this will translate into support for the important G8 initiative.