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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid