News

Save the Mekong Coalition Calls on Prime Ministers to Cancel Mekong Mainstream Dams

As Mekong ministers meet for the 20th Meeting of the Mekong River Commission Council in Bangkok tomorrow, the Save the Mekong coalition has issued a statement calling upon the Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam to work together to address the threat posed by a proposed cascade of eleven Mekong mainstream dams to the region’s food security and people. The coalition requests that immediate action be taken to cancel the planned mainstream dams, including the Xayaburi and Don Sahong dams, which are already under construction. And to ensure that future decisions over the shared river are based on scientific knowledge, transboundary impact assessment, robust consultations, and respect for the rights of all riparian nations and the public to a transparent and participatory decision-making process.

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Laos continues building hydropower dam in Mekong River

Laos is continuing to build Don Sahong dam in the mainstream Mekong River regardless of objections and consultation requests from neighboring countries, the International Rivers Network said in a statement.

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ADDA and PanNature Team Orient Provinces on CEMI Project

Between June 2-7, the Country Representative and National Project Manager of ADDA, accompanied by Mr. Hoang Xuan Thuy, the Deputy Director of the partner NGO, PanNature, travelled to Son La, Dien Bien and Lai Chau to orient the Provincial Farmers’ Unions of the three provinces and other local representatives on the new project, ‘Climate Change and Ethnic Minorities in Northern Vietnam’.

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Mekong hydropower dams: Laos considering, Vietnam needs “quick reactions”

Laos promises to consult with experts and consider the construction of hydropower dams on Mekong River is the good news for Vietnam. However, scientists say Vietnam needs to act promptly to take full advantage of its opportunities.

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NGOs Calls for Cancellation of Dams on the Mainstream Mekong River

On the occasion of the 2nd Mekong River Commission (MRC) Summit, on 3rd April 2014, the Save the Mekong Coalition (StM) sent a letter to four Prime Ministers of MRC member states to express their concerns over impacts of existing and planned hydropower projects.

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CSO, EM Elect Representatives to FEB

On 28 March 2014, Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) and Center for Sustainable Development in Mountainous Areas (CSDM) – two interim representatives of CSO and EM – co-hosted the meeting on electing civil society organizations (CSO) and ethnic minorities (EM) representatives for Programme Executive Board (PEB) of UN-REDD Viet Nam Phase II Programme.

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Vietnamese take active part in ASEAN people’s forum

A large group of Vietnamese attended the ASEAN Civil Society Conference/ASEAN People’s Forum 2014 held in Yangon on March 21st-23rd, where they took an active part in various plenaries, workshops and side events.

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NGOs Work for Sustainable Forest Development

Six non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Vietnam are carrying out four UK-funded projects this year in a joint effort to manage and use forest resources in a sustainable manner, according to the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature).

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World Wildlife Day

On March 3, the U.S. Embassy’s American Center Hanoi organized an event to celebrate the first globally recognized World Wildlife Day. More than sixty Vietnamese youth attended the program that began with a short, thought-provoking film on wildlife conservation practices in the United States. The film is the fifth, and final, part of a series on environmental issues, produced by Vietnamese broadcast journalists through the PAS-sponsored TV Coop program. The series was aired on national TV and is scheduled to be aired again soon.

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In Vietnam, unsustainable ‘modernization’ too much for sanitation services

In Vietnam, unsustainable ‘modernization’ too much for sanitation services.

Nhue-RiverA polluted section of the Nhue River in Hanoi’s Ha Dong District. Experts have urged Vietnam to invest more in sanitation services to reduce pollution. Photo by Ha An

Huynh Thanh Long said he and his neighbors close all their doors and windows whenever they are at home but that doesn’t keep the awful stink from the Ba Bo Canal out of the house.

“Pollution often forms a thick layer of foam on the surface of the flowing water,” said the resident of Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc District.

According to the city’s anti-inundation center, pollution in the canal is a combination of wastewater from residential areas and industrial zones upstream.

Pollution in big cities is common in Vietnam, threatening public health and sustainable growth, experts say.

Vietweek recently reported serious pollution in Hanoi’s rivers, the result of untreated wastewater being discharged from series of new urban areas built without  wastewater treatment facilities.

“Over the last 20 years, the government of Vietnam has made considerable progress on the provision of wastewater services in urban areas, investing nearly US$250 million annually in recent years,” said Le Duy Hung, a senior urban specialist in Hanoi.

“However, keeping pace with rapid urbanization is challenging and it is estimated that $8.3 billion will be required to provide wastewater services to Vietnam’s urban population between now and 2025,” Hung, who is also a leading researcher at the World Bank’s Vietnam Urban Wastewater Review, wrote in a report released on January 20.

The report focuses on the specific challenges that Vietnam faces as a result of increasing environmental pollution associated with rapid urbanization. It also evaluates the performance of the wastewater sector in Vietnam.

It found that although 60 percent of households dispose of wastewater through a public sewerage system, much of this goes to the drainage system with only 10 percent of the wastewater treated.

Hung said estimated economic losses resulting from poor sanitation stood at $780 million per year, or 1.3 percent of the country’s GDP.

“Financing needs are still very high, estimated at $8.3 billion for sewerage services to an estimated urban population of 36 million by 2025,” he said.

Industrialization problem

Apart from untreated wastewater from residential areas, pollution also comes from industrial zones, threatening public health and sustainable growth.

Recently, many farmers in HCMC’s Cu Chi District complained that they do not have water for nearly 400 hectares (988 acres) of rice due to pollution in the Thai Cai and An Ha canals.

They accused the SEPZONE – Linh Trung 3 Industrial Zone of discharging untreated wastewater to pollute the canal.

Vietnam’s first industrial parks opened in 1991 as part of the doi moi reform movement, and there are currently more than 189 industrial parks and 878 export processing zones nationwide in 57 of the country’s total 63 cities and provinces.

Vo Thanh Thu of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s international trade policy advisory committee said that rapid industrialization over the past 20 years had led to a boom in industrial parks and export processing zones.

However, it has also led to serious pollution, leading to conflicts with local residents.

“Only half have established waste treatment plants,” Thu said at a recent seminar on the issue, organized by the People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) a Vietnamese non-profit organization.

Thu said that toxic waste is discharged without treatment, causing serious pollution to the environment.

The committee urged the government to review industrial park and export processing zone zoning plans and encouraged agencies to cooperate to improve the monitoring of environment regulations.

Action needed

Researchers estimated that investment levels of at least $250 per person are needed annually in the East Asia region over the next 15 years to manage wastewater and septage that is generated by the urban population.

In another World Bank report, entitled East Asia Pacific Region Urban Sanitation Review: Actions Needed, researchers examine what is holding back the sector and recommend ways to expand and improve urban sanitation services in an inclusive and sustainable way in Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The region’s rapid urbanization is an engine of economic growth but poor quality sanitation leads to unsustainable development, with economic losses of 1.3, 1.5 and 2.3 percent of GDP in Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, respectively.

“Worldwide, about 2.5 billion people lack adequate sanitation and 660 million of them live in East Asia and the Pacific Region,” said Charles Feinstein, World Bank sector manager for energy and water.

“Inadequate sanitation takes a tremendous toll on the quality of peoples’ lives, the environment, and the economy,” he said. “But the good news is investments in sanitation yield high returns.”

According to the report, poor sanitation has a significant impact on public health in the region including chronic poor health caused by diarrheal disease and an increased risk of disease epidemics such as cholera.

It calls for developing people-centered policies, promoting cost-effective technical solutions, developing sustainable institutions for quality services and developing viable financial schemes.

Returns on sanitation investments are also high.

Worldwide, every US dollar invested in sanitation yields $5.50 in return in terms of economic benefits.

In East Asia, this rate of return is even higher, with every US dollar spent yielding $8 in return, according to the World Health Organization.

Source: VietWeek

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