In one of his first appearances in his new role as Viet Nam’s Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), the 35-year-old actor and comedian Xuan Bac features in a series of 30-second television spots showing children how to boil clean drinking water, help senior citizens clean the village to prevent water-borne diseases, and clean school toilets. Broadcast on major national station VTV, the spots target children between 7 and 15 years of age across the country, particularly in rural areas where use of unsafe water and poor sanitation and hygienic habits are still widespread.
Xuan Bac was appointed as a WASH Ambassador by the Government under a partnership between the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), UNICEF Viet Nam and Singaporean NGO Lien Aid. They are joined by four more organizations – Path, Plan International, World Vision, and Helevtas – in a collaborative WASH communication campaign for 2011.
In Viet Nam, 20,000 people die every year from diarrhoeal diseases related to poor water and sanitation – most of them children. Close to one in five Vietnamese households lacks access to improved water supply, while three out of five households lack access to hygienic sanitation in rural areas of the country. This means some 3.3 million children in rural areas do not have access to Simproved water and over 11 million children lack access to improved sanitation.
WASH ambassador Xuan Bac was present at the launch of the National Water and Sanitation Week 2011 on 26 April in Dien Bien province – one of the poorest provinces in the country. The launch attracted the participation of both government officials, donors’ representatives, thousands of local people, students and pupils. The Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development stated that during the past 10 years, the national programme for rural water supply and sanitation had made significant progress, but rural sanitation was one of the two off-track Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Viet Nam.
Mrs. Lis Rosenholm, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Denmark in Viet Nam, stressed the importance of water and sanitation for the rural poor to ensure that the welfare, quality of life, health and economic possibilities. Denmark has been supporting the water and sanitation sector since the 1990s. For the past five years, Denmark has joined with Australia, the Netherlands and the U.K to support the national programme on water and sanitation. With the progress and results of the current cooperation in the sector, Denmark is considering a continued three-year support to the programme when the current support ends at the end of 2011.
Related web sites:
- UNICEF Viet Nam – Water and Sanitation
- Embassy of Denmark, Hanoi : Sector Programme Support to Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Promotion