Fulfilling an urgent need for clean water

Students and teachers in Ha Giang, Vietnam benefit from a clean water system supported by Plan International Vietnam in their pre-school.

A hard life without water

Meo Vac is one of the poorest districts of Vietnam’s Ha Giang Province. For many locals, access to basic education, health care and clean water is limited. With more than 90% of land area covered with rocks, water supply has become one of the biggest challenges for the local authorities and villagers. Most of the water here is collected from the only source, natural rain, which causes difficulties to the lives of local inhabitants.

Ms. Bui Thi Them is a 29 year old teacher, who has been working for Ha Dau Co preschool in Can Chu Phin Commune for more than four years. Being the only school in the area for children below six, Them and her two colleagues take care of more than 50 children everyday – most of whom are from the H’mong ethnic minority group. Besides language and cultural challenges, they face another big issue: a limited clean water supply, which impacts the hygiene and sanitation of the children they look after.

Many locals in the area pay little attention to their children’s hygiene needs – lots of children would go for months without properly washing, which left them vulnerable to skin diseases. With government support, a water tank has been built in the commune’s centre so locals can use rainwater for their daily needs.

“It took me nearly one hour to collect water from the tank, which is about three kilometres from the school,” said Them. “It was troublesome as we couldn’t take enough water for all the children… in our school, access to water for children was more urgent than ever.”  

Clean water to the preschool

But thanks to Plan Vietnam’s recent support, a water pipe has been built to connect the new water tank to the school. Them and her colleagues no longer walk on foot to take the water from the tank by hand.

I can now teach our children to use water smartly and help them avoid skin diseases.

“Thanks to the new system, I can now teach our children to use water smartly and help them avoid skin diseases much more effectively,” added Them regarding the upgrade, which is one of many WASH activities implemented by Plan Vietnam in Meo Vac District.

Other initiatives, such as training courses to raise general awareness of water usage, have also helped. Locals now make water-saving tools by themselves, build toilets near their homes to stop open defecation and wash their hands with soap after using the toilet to avoid spreading diseases.