News / Asia

Q&A: Improving Water Conditions in Vietnam, Cambodia

FILE - The sun rises above a polluted lake at the Nam Son garbage dump, north of Hanoi, Vietnam.
FILE - The sun rises above a polluted lake at the Nam Son garbage dump, north of Hanoi, Vietnam.
Steve Norman
The United Nations reports 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have access to adequate sanitation, and more than 760 million are without clean water.  One of the organizations dedicated to providing clean water and better sanitation is the U.S.-based development agency, East Meets West, which is working to improve these conditions, specifically in Vietnam. VOA's Steve Norman spoke with the group's president, John Anner, about their work and how it got started. 

Anner:  East Meets West was born from one woman's dream of helping to heal the wounds of war between the United States and Vietnam.  In 1988, LeLy Hayslip, returned to her home village of Ky La in central Vietnam and started East Meets West.  A lot of what we did was bringing Vietnam veterans back to Vietnam so they could get involved in works which were much more constructive and humanitarian in the aftermath of the war.  Over the years we have expanded our work to other countries in the region.

Norman:  What are your current projects in Vietnam?

Anner:  We have four main project areas, including clean water, education, child health, and construction of what the group calls “Vietnam Social Infrastructure."  This would be hospitals, libraries and schools.

Norman:  I understand that you are partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on a number of your projects.

Anner:  Yes. The Gates Foundation helps us to provide people in impoverished, rural areas access to safe water and improved sanitation in order to greatly reduce water-borne diseases.  This dual approach to improving community health leads to better health and improved economic and education opportunities.  The estimates from the countries themselves are that 50 percent of the Vietnamese people and 80 percent of Cambodians simply lack any sort of proper sanitation at home.

Norman:  Does the Gates Foundation funding allow you freedoms East Meets West might not otherwise have?

Anner:  The Gates money fills a particular niche of how to deliver large numbers of latrines in a reasonable way that is cost effective.  The average latrine can cost between $100 and $150; you can do the math, if millions of people need latrines, then you’re talking about a very expensive need which needs to be met.

Norman:  I would assume all of this leads to saved lives.

Anner: It does. Helping countries, such as Vietnam, achieve better sanitation and clean water does save lives.  Each year more than 17,000 people, most of whom are children under the age of five, die in Vietnam and Cambodia as a result of poor hygiene.

Norman:  Does your work translate into any economic gains for countries like Vietnam and Cambodia?

Anner:  Quite simply, the economic loss from health issues and the mortality that results is approximately $1.2 billion a year in these two countries.  We see sanitation not just as a health issue, but also something that keeps poor families trapped in a cycle of poverty and makes it very hard to climb out [of poverty] when you’re constantly suffering the effects of water-borne diseases.

The East Meets West chief, John Anner, also noted the expense of prevention is relatively small compared with the human and financial costs resulting from poor sanitation and unclean water.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid