Building hygienic latrines to improve wellbeing of their families

On November 19, World Toilet Day, East Meets West and the Vietnam Women’s Union organized a workshop in Hanoi with representatives from different ministries, international NGOs, and the Australian Embassy to look at the results of the ten-year partnership and our women-led initiatives in hygiene and sanitation with a focus on climate resilience and COVID-19.

Source: ENW

The Vietnam Women’s Union has coordinated with the East Meets Wests and partners to implement a project on hygiene and clean water in five provinces of Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Ben Tre. As a result, more than 9,100 households in rural areas were persuaded to build hygienic toilets. Besides, 980 other households, along with 50,000 children and 173 communal health clinics were provided with hand cleaning devices and soap for COVID-19 prevention under the project.

Poor hygiene and lack of clean water are among causes of malnutrition and diseases, especially in children. Under-five children in communities without hygienic toilets are 3.7cm shorter in average than their peers in communities with hygienic toilets. Pneumonia and diarrhea are the cause of nearly one third of deaths of under-five children in Vietnam.

Vice Chairwoman of the Vietnam Women’s Union Tran Thi Huong said the union has made it a priority to support women in building and using hygienic toilets as part of a campaign to encourage hygienic practice in rural families.

The issue is significant in ensuring the right to sanitation for everyone, especially women living in disadvantaged circumstances and those with disabilities, she said, adding that it will help to gradually change the awareness and behaviours of women, other people and the community about protecting a hygienic environment for the health of the community and their own families.

The Vietnam Women’s Union needs support and technical assistance from all sectors, the authorities, organisations and enterprises in working for the right to sanitation, Huong said.

Country Director of the East Meets West Vietnam Nguyen Hong Hanh highlighted that the issue of environmental hygiene and clean water is more urgent than ever in the central region which was hard hit by historic floods.

The organization will continue to work with local partners to ensure access to clean water and hygiene for disadvantaged communities, she said.

"By engaging our ready-made network of women volunteers from the women-led sanitation program, we can strengthen community resilience in coping with climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic. We are continually working with our local partners to ensure access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene for underserved communities as well as disaster risk reduction," Hanh said.

Mrs Yen's family and East Meets West staff. Source: ENW

Robin Bednall, representing the Australian Embassy in Vietnam, also launched a short film “Dignity”, a film by Morgan Ommer which shows the impact of the WOBA program on a woman Mrs Yen and her auntie Bo whose mobility is limited. He praised the efforts of the Women’s Union at central and local levels in conducting policy advocacy, raising awareness, mobilising resources, and empowering women by making them change agents, to ensure no one is left behind.

“Dignity” features one household from the 28,000 people who have benefited from Australian Government funded Women-led Output-Based Aid (WOBA) program in Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Ben Tre implemented by East Meets West. The 5-year (2018-22) WOBA project was launched by East Meets West and the Vietnam Women’s Union in 2018, funded by the Australian Government under Water for Women.

Tu Pham