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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid