Rooftop farming in Hanoi's centre

One man in Hanoi's centre has surprised his neighbours by operating a small farm on the rooftop of a five-storey building.

Nguyen Manh Tien's farm is not limited to vegetable growing, he also raises pigs, poultry and fish. He uses the produce for consumption by his family and neighbours, and has been doing so for over a decade.

Since then, he has added two additional terraces to the rooftop to expand his venture.

“We’ve grown our own food for several years and sometimes, and are almost completely self-sufficient. Occasionally we buy a little beef or fruit,” said Tien.

He decided to build such farm after he became aware of food security problems. While he traveling as a fisherman, he picked up the methods of vegetable growers and raisers of animals and brought them back to Hanoi. Seeing that many farmers used unsafe pesticides and other chemicals, he decided to farm his produce naturally.

"In the first year we had 800 kilos of fish, and we had to sell the extra. I'm very happy with the results now," he said.

He added that some of the pigs can grow to be more than 100 kilos and have to be taken down by pulley.

With 150 chickens and wild geese, along with 200 vegetables growing styrofoam boxes, his family rarely has to buy food.

His neighbourers are also very happy to buy safe and clean food from his family and to know the source of their food.

“I intend to introduce my produce to more people in the near future, and hope others are willing to adopt similar techniques,” he added.

Stop preventable deaths: UNICEF

UNICEF has launched a campaign called ZEROworkplace that involves companies in its efforts to eradicate preventable child deaths in Viet Nam.

ZEROworkplace enables managers to provide critical information to employees in an inexpensive and effective way that can have a lifesaving impact on their children.

"In Viet Nam, 100 children die every day from preventable causes," Youssouf Abdel-Jelil, UNICEF's representative in Viet Nam, said at the launch ceremony in HCM City on Monday.

"UNICEF believes this number should be zero."

This goal cannot be achieved without the support of the entire community, he said, adding that UNICEF calls on all businesses to join the campaign.

Taiwanese footwear manufacturer Pouyuen and Mobivi, a company that offers services to factory workers through its iCare programme, are the first in the country to join the campaign.

The two can promote positive behaviours that have the potential to reach half a million employees, most of them female migrants, a UNICEF release said.

As a first step to joining the campaign, Pouyuen is promoting the Measles-Rubella Immunization Campaign that was launched nation-wide on October 11 to vaccinate 23 million children aged between one and 14, including 1.3 million in HCM City, by next February.

Using an online toolkit to print materials, the company is calling on its workers to get their children vaccinated against the two diseases.

The toolkit is the first in a series of information packages that will be accessible online through ZEROworkplace.

Abdel-Jelil said that vaccinations are the most effective and low-cost way to prevent diseases and ultimately save children's lives.

Build health policies on research evidence: experts

It is necessary to strengthen the use of research-based evidence to develop health policies and programmes, especially for sexual and reproductive health.

Experts agreed on this at the second national conference on Sexual and Reproductive Health held yesterday in Ha Noi by the Ministry of Health, the Ha Noi School of Public Health and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Viet Nam.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien said that strengthening scientific research would help maintain the fertility rate at replacement level and reduce the imbalanced sex ratio.

He also said this type of research could help cut maternal, child and abortion death rates and improve sexual and reproductive health care services for young people.

Luu Thi Hong, director of the health ministry's Department of Mother-Child Health, said there were disparities in death and sickness rates between various regions and population groups, especially among ethnic groups.

Inequalities and disparities in access to quality reproductive health care were observed among women in various regions in Viet Nam, she said.

She added that Viet Nam also did not have a reliable sexual and reproductive health database on adolescents and young people.

This led to limitations in the development of policies on sexual reproductive health.

"Research-based evidence in different regions and among different vulnerable groups would help provide enough information to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young people," said Hong.

Arthur Erken, UNFPA representative in Viet Nam said that Viet Nam was a largely rural country with more than 90 million inhabitants from 54 different ethnic groups. "One-size-fits-all policies do not work and we should make sure that the different needs of all individuals related to sexual reproductive health should be taken into account," he said.

Nhat Tan Bridge will give a facelift to Hanoi’s hinterland

The soon to be completed 12-kilometre Nhat Tan Bridge - Noi Bai Airport road in Hanoi has attracted a host of interested property developers who see great potential for urban expansion along this route.

The Nhat Tan Bridge will come into operation early next year, after which urban areas will be developed along the route.

The 2,000 hectares along the road will be  located across the Vinh Ngoc, Tam Xa, Hai Boi, Xuan Canh, Van Noi, Tien Duong, Bac Hong and Nguyen Khe communes.

In this area there will be a mixed use retail-agriculture urban area, so-called ASEAN City, a river urban area, and an eco-urban area.

There are currently more than 10 projects under construction along the road. The Korean-backed 2.5 billion Tay Ho Tay development is now under construction. Expected to be completed in 2019, the project will house 25,000 residents over more than 207 hectares of land.

Next to this, the Hanoi Construction Corporation is building its Diplomatic project over 62 hectares. This will consist of offices for the diplomatic staff, apartment buildings and social facilities.

A little bit further down the road, Indonesian-backed Ciputra has a new residential area that is taking shape with 50 buildings and 2,500 houses. With a total investment capital of $2.1billion, the project is now in its third phase.

Over the Red River in Dong Anh district, a range of other projects are being designed, such as Van Tri Ecoland, Duc Noi residential project, and Noble Van Tri.

Hanoi Party Secretary Pham Quang Nghi recently confirmed that the city municipal authorities were considering special policies to woo investors to participate in developing urban areas along the road.

Those policies, Nghi said, should be simple, attractive and feasible to attract private investment.

The Department of Planning and Investment was assigned by the local people’s committee to draw up the proposed incentives for submission this year.

Meanwhile, chairman of Hanoi People’s Committee Nguyen The Thao said that future investors who wanted to participate in sub-projects to develop those areas would have to remain engaged throughout the project’s life. This precondition was aimed to avoid investors who wanted to register in a certain project, build houses and quit after the houses were sold.

He stressed that the future sub-projects would need to be modern, environmentally-friendly developments. He also ruled out tall apartment blocks, favouring low-rise developments with plenty of green space.

The overall development will consist of 14 sub-projects and will see a phased implementation through until 2025.

Sand mining takes toll on dyke roads

Urgent, tough action is needed to prevent sand-mining businesses and sand-carrying trucks from damaging dyke routes in Thanh Hoa, says Nguyen Trong Hai, director of the province's Dyke Management and Flood Control Department.

A recent report by news website cited him as saying law enforcement agencies should penalise and revoke business licences of those responsible for overloading and using oversized trucks.

Hai said that overloaded sand trucks had damaged 22.5km of the 296km of asphalted and concreted first-class to third-class dyke roads in the province.

Dyke roads are typically split into five classes based on several criteria including the area they protect, with the fifth class being the lowest.

The trucks were leaving sand on the road, causing asphalt and concrete surfaces to peel off and creating pot holes, Hai said. He said local residents were having to repair the routes by filling the holes with rock and dirt to prevent road accidents.

He also said that the trucks typically exceeded the maximum allowed vehicle loading capacity of 12 and 10 tonnes on asphalt and concrete dyke roads, respectively.

He said the number of trucks using and damaging dyke routes had increased because sand-mining businesses were overloading and oversizing their vehicles to earn larger incomes.

Since the police had tightened control over overloaded and oversized trucks on main roads, the trucks were avoiding them and taking roads running along the river.

Hai said he was concerned that all dyke routes in the province would soon be damaged if law enforcement agencies failed to come up with comprehensive solutions.

The province, district authorities and people have implemented several measures but were still finding it difficult to deal the problem, he added.

Le Anh Tuan, Vice Chairman of the Thanh Hoa People's Committee, said that the provincial administration has allowed districts to build size and load control structures on main dyke routes, establish hotlines and empowered commune police to seize overloaded and oversized trucks.

However, Le Huy Hoang, Vice Chairman of the Tho Xuan People's Committee, said that law enforcement teams were not able to solve the problem because the trucks were often used late at night.

District authorities have also found it difficult to manage sand mining business because all three licensed ones were located in the same area, while many illegal mines were located along the river, Hoang added.

Trinh Ngoc Minh, the Chief Inspector of the Thanh Hoa Transport Department, said that his office has established control stations on important dyke routes.

He said his department had imposed fines of VND500 million (US$23,800) last month and reduced the number of overloaded and oversized trucks plying the province's roads.

However, control stations could only deal with important sites, and district and commune authorities had to take full responsibility for monitoring and preserving dyke roads in their locations because funding for this had already been disbursed to those administrations, he said.

Outlying districts lack running water

Many households in HCMC’s outlying districts such as 12, Hoc Mon, Binh Chanh and Cu Chi have no access to running water, so they rely mainly on unsafe well water.

HCMC vice chairman Nguyen Huu Tin, who made a field trip to the areas to check the situation late last week, heard Nguyen Thi Bach Lan, a resident in Hoc Mon District’s Dong Thanh Commune, saying her family has used water pumped from wells for years.

She said her family buys clean water at a high price for drinking and cooking.

In fact, Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco) has yet to install a water pipeline to the area, forcing people there to use unsafe water for daily activities.

Nguyen Thi Tiu in Thanh Xuan Ward in the same district said she has been using well water since 1997.

District 12 chairman Nguyen Toan Thang said just half of 125,000 households in the district have access to running water from Sawaco while the other half have to use water from wells. In some places water resources are contaminated.

In Hoc Mon Town in the district of the same name, about 1,720 of 4,000 households are provided with clean water by Sawaco, while the number of families in Thanh Xuan Ward having access to the corporation’s clean water is nearly 6,000, 72% of the total there.

According to a report of Sawaco, there are around 113,100 of over 340,100 families in 58 outlying areas of the city being reached by the firm’s water supply systems.

Speaking at a meeting following the field trip, Tin said his trip found a report of relevant agencies that said 98% of the city’s population has access to running water is inaccurate.

Therefore, he told Sawaco to map out a plan to supply running water for all people in the whole city.

Hanoi prepares to tackle year-end traffic congestion

The Ha Noi Traffic Police Division has proposed more traffic lights at key intersections, round-the-clock presence of guards at major construction sites and improved inter-agency co-operation as measures to tackle year-end road congestion.

In a meeting with the municipal People's Committee and its Department of Transport, division head Dao Vinh Thang identified the traffic intersections which face high risk of traffic congestion: Tay Son-Thai Thinh; Xa Dan-Nam Dong in Dong Da District, Dai La-Tran Dai Nghia in Hai Ba Trung District; and Nguyen Huu Tho-Nguyen Xien in Hoang Mai District.

Thang also said that project investors should work with other agencies to install enough warning signs and signals and assign people to be on duty round the clock at construction sites so as to ensure steady flow of traffic.

He said concerned agencies should also guarantee stable power supply for traffic lights in the city.

The city now had 46 zones that face high risk of traffic congestion and 31 traffic accident "black zones," which are respectively 15 and 21 less than the same period last year, Thang said.

Fencing around several construction sites has narrowed the roads and caused traffic jams, he said.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, Deputy Chairman of the Ha Noi People's Committee, said that inter-agency inspection teams made up of traffic police, inspectors and police should conduct more inspections to deter violations, especially in the city's inner districts, on national highway sections and construction sites.

Nearly 20 traffic light clusters in the Old Quarter should be repaired, he said.

He said concerned agencies should also inspect and carry out upgrades on roads in disrepair.

So far this year, more than 1,800 accidents have killed 560 people and injured at least 1,600 others in the capital city, according to the Traffic Police Division.

The districts that recorded the highest number of traffic accidents are Thuong Tin, Soc Son, Ba Vi and Gia Lam.

The city is estimated to have about 500,000 automobiles and nearly 5 million motorbikes.

Lai Chau readies rice support plan

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has asked Lai Chau authorities to calculate the quantity of rice needed to support about 3,500 households displaced by two hydropower plants in the northern province.

The support is meant to help the families stave off hunger while they waited to be evacuated to new resettlement areas next year.

The 3,500 households live near the Ban Chat and Huoi Quang hydropower plants.

The Lai Chau People's Committee should submit the rice support plan to the Government soon, Hai said.

Local farmers typically planted rice for a new crop shortly after the Tet (Lunar New Year) festival every year, so the rice support should prevent them from going hungry at that time.

He also asked the provincial administration to complete paying compensation to the households by the first quarter of next year.

The committee should also deal quickly with complaints regarding compensation, he directed.

The Deputy PM has asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to co-operate with the Finance and Planning and Investment ministries in coming up with a plan to help the households stabilise their lives in the new resettlement areas.

The 220 MW Ban Chat Hydropower Plant, built on the Nam Mu River in Than Uyen and Tan Uyen districts, began operating in 2013.

Meanwhile, the bigger Huoi Quang Hydropower Plant, which has a capacity of 520 MW has also been built on the Nam Mu River. This dam straddles the provinces of Lai Chau and Son La. The first turbine of this plant is set to generate electricity on December 31 this year.

Unsafe works face suspension

The Construction Ministry says it will suspend all works that cannot ensure safety standards for workers and the general public.

In a communique sent on Monday to other ministries as well as provincial and city administrations, the ministry called for immediate dissemination of the National Standard for Construction Safety developed in September.

It also asked provincial and city administrations to carry out strict inspections of safety standards in construction works, focusing on equipment, including cranes and scaffolding in urban areas.

The ministry noted that reports of several construction accidents, including collapsed cranes and scaffolding that have killed people and damaged property, showed that contractors and investors were not following safety regulations.

In a recent accident, one man was killed and two others injured when a steel beam dropped from a crane at the construction site of the urban railway project in Thanh Xuan District.

The Ministry of Transport has suspended the project pending investigation and assessment of safety standards.

HCM City reaches out to help homeless drug addicts

The deputy chairman of HCM City People's Committee has asked agencies to prepare two facilities to accept drug addicts without a stable residence who need detoxification and psychological counselling.

Hua Ngoc Thuan said the drug addicts would be sent to the Nhi Xuan Centre of Vocational Education and Employment in Hoc Mon District and the Binh Trieu Admission Centre of Addicts and Prostitutes in Binh Thanh District.

The decision was made after the National Assembly passed a resolution on Monday to send drug addicts who have no stable residence for detox treatment while they wait for a court decision on whether they must enter a rehabilitation centre.

As of May 31, the city had 19,213 addicts, according to a city police report. Sixty per cent of them do not have a stable residence, and most of them have refused to voluntarily seek treatment at their community-based health centres.

Phan Anh Minh, deputy head of the HCM City police, said the real number of drug addicts in the city was actually higher.

Of the city's 19,213 addicts, nearly 70 per cent do not have a job. Many of them resort to crime to get money to buy drugs and survive, he said.

Tran Trung Dung, head of the city's Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said the addicts would stay at either of the two centres for 10-15 days for detox and counselling.

Tran Huu Tham, deputy head of the Nhi Xuan Centre of Vocational Education and Employment, said the centre's facilities could admit 2,700 addicts.

The centre has 21 doctors and nurses who can provide detoxification services and psychological counselling.

In addition, the facilities at Binh Trieu Centre can treat 400-500 addicts.

The city has 14 rehabilitation centres, some of them located in neighbouring provinces, which can treat a total of 33,000 addicts.

Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, chairwoman of the city People's Council, said estimated funds for detoxification would be VND4 million (US$190) per addict.

"This puts financial pressure on the city, but these funds must be allocated," she said.

Dr Nguyen Huu Khanh Duy, head of the Thanh Da Rehabilitation Centre, said it was difficult to treat drug addiction as patients could easily relapse.

It takes at least six months to two years to recover from addiction, he said.

More than 1,800 of 19, 213 addicts are now being treated with methadone at centres under the management of the Health Department, according to Nguyen Tan Binh, the department's head.

New tests needed to diagnose TB

Most diagnoses of tuberculosis in Viet Nam are based only on sputum tests, which can lead to delayed treatment if the results are negative, according to findings from the Friends for International Tuberculosis Relief, a German NGO.

The NGO is working with the HCM City Public Health Association on a TB care and control project in HCM City's Go Vap District.

Vo Nguyen Quang Luan, the founder of the NGO, said patients were asked to take x-rays and undergo 10 days of antibiotic treatment if sputum tests were negative.

Luan spoke at a meeting on TB diagnosis that ended yesterday in HCM City.

Patients were told to return to hospital for more tests if the results were ambiguous or the treatment was ineffective, he added.

"Advanced diagnostics would greatly benefit patients and the community, and are needed as urgently as ever," said Luan.

Dang Minh Sang of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital said the detection of TB in Viet Nam was based on sputum tests only.

The modern molecular test GeneXpert, which can detect the presence of TB bacteria as well as resistance to the drug Rifampicin, is used in only a few health facilities in Ha Noi, HCM City and several other provinces.

Sang said it was vital to introduce new diagnostic tools to help Viet Nam reach the targets in the national TB prevention strategy by 2020.

Dr Nguyen Thi Ngoc Lan of Pham Ngoc Thach Hospital said that TB prevention and treatment programmes were mostly in big cities and towns in Viet Nam.

However, a high number of TB patients lived in rural areas, and a trip to clinics was often a financial burden they could not bear, she said.

One way to make the TB prevention programme more effective was to bring the diagnostic tool as close as possible to the patients, she added.

She suggested that a "novel molecular assay" that is more sensitive than smear microscopy should be used in health clinics in wards and communes in order to detect and treat TB patients early.

According to WHO data from 2013, 209 people out of 100,000 in the country have the disease, which includes HIV+TB co-infected patients.

WHO said that TB was one of the top causes of death in Viet Nam, and only 27 per cent of the money needed for effective TB control was funded.

Martina Casenghi, tuberculosis diagnostics advisor for Doctors without Borders' Access to Essential Medicines Campaign, said such tools could reduce diagnostic delays and improve access to drug susceptibility testing.

Timely and accurate diagnoses ensures that patients can begin effective therapy, she said.

According to a 2014 global TB report, nine million new cases occurred last year, an increase of 8.6 million in 2012. Of the cases, 1.5 million people died, she said

Globally, 3.5 per cent of new and 20.5 per cent of previously treated TB cases had multidrug-resistant TB, according to the report.

Serious multidrug-resistant TB epidemics occurred in Eastern Europe and Central Asia last year, with 35 per cent of them new cases and 75 per cent previously treated.

Treatment success rates for multidrug-resistant TB remain low, and the success rate stands at only 48 per cent worldwide.

OVs in Australia voice concerns about East Sea issue

The Vietnamese Businesses’ Association in Australia (VBAA) has expressed their concern about recent developments in the East Sea, which increase tension in the region.

In a letter sent to Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and delegates to the G20 Summit in Queensland on November 15-16, VBAA highlighted that the East Sea is a life-line and important maritime route for many countries worldwide, including Australia and other G20 member economies.

The association said goods transportation at the sea can be interrupted by disputes, causing unforeseeable consequences to economies in the region and the world, and even impacting seriously on the global economic recovery.

VBAA called on Australia – as Chair of G20 and the alternate President of the United Nations Security Council- to affirm the common interest of the G20 in maintaining peace and stability, respect for international law, navigation and aviation freedom in the East Sea.

The letter said with its prestige and global strength, Australia should raise its voice against unilateral actions to change the actuality in the East Sea by using and threatening to use force, as well as call on relevant parties to settle disputes through dialogues.

Apart from VBAA’s letter, many Vietnamese students living in Australia signed an open letter calling on Australia and G20 to appeal to parties related to disputes in the East Sea to seriously implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), and cooperate to build a Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

HCM City police focus on fighting drug trafficking

The rising number of drug addicts, especially those hailing from other localities, has posed a headache for Ho Chi Minh City.

According to the Police Department for Drug-related Crimes Investigation (C47) at the Ministry of Public Security, 20 drug trafficking cases were detected at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in the first nine months of this year.

The police seized 14 suspects, 7.7 kilos of heroin, 13 kilos of cocaine, 4 kilos of meths and nearly 40 kilos of drug precursors.

Most of the cases have associated with Africa-sourced rings, which targeted Vietnam as consumption and transit destinations, it noted.

In recent months, the illegal trade became bustling via road routes between northern localities such as Hai Phong and Quang Ninh and the city, it added.

Major Mai Van Linh, deputy head of the HCM City Police’s Office for Drug-related Crimes Investigation (PC47), said traffickers, especially those using air services, are becoming more cunning.

He named districts 1, 8, 12, Go Vap, Hoc Mon, Binh Thanh, Tan Binh, Tan Phu, Binh Tan, and Binh Chanh districts as drug dealers’ hottest spots, citing that police in District 1 detected 468 cases involving 743 suspects while District 8 police uncovered 942 cases with 1,063 suspects, during 2009-2013.

In the first nine months of this year, the city’s forces brought to light 1,257 drug-related cases, seizing 2,543 suspects, 21 kilos of heroin, 11.27 kilos of cocaine, 29.54 kilos of meths, and 9.97 kilos of hashish.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Phung Van Dang, PC47 deputy head, said the city police are determined to eliminate drug hot-spots, especially in District 8 and 12.

Meanwhile, Major General Nguyen Phi Hung, C47 deputy head, pointed to the need to fully equip anti-drug forces stationed at airports and foster the sharing of experience and coordination among relevant agencies there.

Investigation on hijacked oil tanker expanded

The Ministry of Public Security decided to take legal action in the hijacking case of oil tanker Sunrise 689 in order to expand the investigation, and identify and pursue the hijackers.

After cooperating with the shipbuilding and insurance companies as well as technicians to examine the black box, the Department for Investigation of Social Order-Related Crimes (C45) concluded that the tanker was robbed by pirates on its way from Singapore to Vietnam.

C45 is currently working with the Ministry of Public Security’s Information Sharing Centre (ISC) under the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combatting Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) to investigate pirate groups in the Malacca Strait and Southeast Asian region with a view to capturing the Sunrise 689 robbers.

Vietnamese oil tanker Sunrise 689, with an 18-member crew and over 5,000 tonnes of oil, was hijacked and robbed of a third of its oil by a gang of armed thugs, causing an estimated loss of approximately 30 billion VND (1.4 million USD) on October 2.

According to the International Maritime Bureau, the Sunrise case is the 12th piracy incident involving the hijacking of tankers in Southeast Asia since April, which are often released after the cargo is removed.

Vietnam is now a member of the Southeast Asia and Asia conventions on combatting piracy.

Greener Con Dao National Park targeted

Con Dao National Park is implementing a number of biodiversity conversation strategies that will have a global and national impact, Tran Dinh Hue, Vice Director of the park, said.

Con Dao National Park, which spans 19,991 hectares, comprises 14 islands 80km off the coast of southern Vietnam.

The park, one of the world’s 2,203 Ramsar sites, supports a range of coastal and terrestrial ecosystems that are typical of the geographic region, including two different forest ecosystems. Its aquatic ecosystems, mangrove forests, coral reefs and marine grass, are inhabited by 1,725 aquatic species.

As many as 1,077 species of flora and fauna have been recorded in the terrestrial ecosystems, including 23 species listed in the Red Data Book of Vietnam, and four species that were first discovered in Vietnam and are included in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.

The park is home to 85 species of birds, 29 species of mammals, 38 species of reptiles, and 8 species of amphibians. The diversity of ecosystems has received extensive attention from scientists.

The park’s geographic features make the archipelago a great destination for coastal tourism. Con Dao island, along with the central coastal cities of Da Nang, Nha Trang and Quy Nhon, and southern Phu Quoc island, was recently recognised as a magnet for domestic tourists.

The ongoing biodiversity conservation efforts, such as protecting and increasing the size of forest areas and using natural resources efficiently, play a crucial role in ensuring sustainable development throughout the archipelago.

Con Dao National Park was listed in the Global Representative System of Marine Protected Areas, published by the World Bank, in 1995. The New York Times rated the park as one of the most impressive spots in South East Asia in 2010 while Lonely Planet Magazine placed Con Dao island amongst the world’s top ten islands for a romantic holiday in 2011 and 2012.-

Dong Thap’s needy people receive free check-up

As many as 400 poor patients in the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap’s Cao Lanh city have been provided with free medical check-up by doctors from the provincial General Hospital as part of the 2014 community healthcare campaign.

The programme, launched by the local Red Cross and the hospital with the theme “Joining hands for community health”, aims to call for social involvement in humanitarian examination and treatment activities in the locality.

It also contributed to bringing healthcare services to local needy and disadvantaged people, especially those from remote and border areas, and helped maintain regularity of charitable movements in the community.

Vietnamese-run clinics provide healthcare services in Angola

A second Vietnamese-run healthcare centre was inaugurated in Gamek, in Angola’s capital Luanda, expecting to treat more Vietnamese and Angolan patients.

Thanh II Centre, covering 1,000 sq.m, is the second facility operated by the Vietnamese doctor couple Minh and Thanh in Angola.

The centre is equipped with modern facilities and comprises a number of different departments, with a highly qualified group of doctors, nurses and medical workers from Vietnam, Angola and Cuba.

So far, Vietnamese doctors have set up six healthcare centres in Angola, of varying sizes, to help address the lack of high quality medical services in the country.

Project promotes sustainable development in Lower Mekong

A project aiming at accelerating the realisation of goals set in the Lower Mekong Public Policy Initiative ( LMPPI) was launched at a workshop in Ho Chi Minh City on November 13.

According to the Fulbright Economics Teaching Programme (FETP) of Ho Chi Minh City ’s University of Economics , the organiser of the event, the project will gather research institutes in the Lower Mekong region and their partner universities to carry out research into challenges to the environment, agriculture and livelihood.

It will also promote dialogues on public policy in an attempt to boost sustainable economic development an improve people’s livelihood in Vietnam , Cambodia , Thailand , Laos and Myanmar .

Addressing the workshop, Rena Bitter, US Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City , said the project is expected to help build policies for promoting sustainable economic development, in order to better the living conditions for people in the region.

The project’s activities will focus on strengthening regional cooperation in analysing the relationship among water, food security and energy, thus giving proposals and measures in the field.

Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), LMPPI is led by the Ash Centre for Democratic Governance and Innovation - Harvard Kennedy School , and FETP .

It seeks to build institutional capacity in action-research and public policy for ecologically sustainable development in the Lower Mekong region through interdisciplinary collaboration and multi-sectorial knowledge exchange in the five contries.

The initiative is anchored in an evolving regional network of researchers and decision-makers working in agricultural production and natural resource management systems. Major nodes of the network consist of small teams of researchers at university, government, and non-government research units, which will conduct outreach to key stakeholders from a range of sectors and disciplines.

HCM City expands pilot waste classification at home

Ho Chi Minh City will expand the classification of waste by households to 24 districts across the locality.

Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Huu Tin said each district will select a commune or ward to implement this activity.

To make waste classification a habit of families, local authorities should work together to make effective communication plans, he added.

The programme has been piloted in District 6 since March 2007, in Binh Thanh district since June 2013 and District 1 since August 2013.

Local people were provided with two-compartment trash bins and plastic bags to classify organic and inorganic garbage, helping facilitate waste treatment and save the money.

Demand for environmental technology soars

All of Vietnam’s 16 economic sectors will need around 7.6 billion USD of investment in environmentally friendly technology, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

This high demand requires a supply of appropriate technology and machinery to create environmentally friendly products and services, the ministry said.

From 2010-2014, total official development assistance (ODA) allocated to environmental projects amounted to 2.9 billion USD. In 2013, 259 million USD was disbursed for this purpose.

Vietnam has adopted suitable policies and has implemented programmes to promote international cooperation in the field. The cooperation takes many forms, from bilateral to multilateral, and focuses on technology transfer.

In terms of solid waste treatment technologies, local enterprises have applied Spanish technology at the Cau Dien facility in Hanoi, French technology in the northern province of Nam Dinh, and Danish technology in Ho Chi Minh City. Most recently, the Xuan Son facility in Hanoi began using technology imported from Fukuoka (Japan).

With regard to sewage treatment, a number of Vietnamese businesses are effectively applying technologies from Japan, Germany, and the US.

Chairman of the Vietnam Environment Industry Association Do Huu Hao said only 10 percent of sewage in urban areas was treated properly and only 30 percent of industrial production sites were equipped with waste water treatment facilities.

In addition to domestic efforts to produce environmental technologies, it is necessary to promote the application of international expertise adapted to local conditions, specialists suggested.

Deputy Head of the Department of International Relations and Science-Technology Nguyen Minh Cuong suggested diversifying investments in environmental protection, which are currently sourced from the State budget, the private sector and ODA.

It is also important to foster bilateral cooperation between Vietnam and international partners by exchanging experts, enhancing the capacity of the involved parties, and adopting policies to develop large-scale companies providing environmental services.-

New association boosts efforts to tackle UXOs

The Vietnam Bombs and Mines Action Support Association was established in Hanoi on November 12 with the aim to assist efforts to tackle the impacts of unexploded ordnances (UXOs) and aid UXO victims.

The association, headed by former Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People’s Army Lieutenant General Nguyen Duc Soat, has gathered more than 200 voluntary scientists, researchers and war veterans with experience in the field.

The association will work together with local authorities and other social organisations to raise financial aid from foreign and domestic businesses and individuals as well as international organisations for bomb and mine clearance missions and improving the life of UXO victims.

At the same time, the organisation plans to popularise information on the UXO risks and prevention measures among communities in areas severely polluted by UXO.

Nearly 40 years after the end of the war, many areas across the country are still contaminated by UXOs, which seriously threaten the safety of local communities while hindering socio-economic development.

Preliminary statistics show that UXOs have claimed more than 42,000 lives and left about 62,000 injured, mostly rural people and children, over the last four decades.

Each year on average, more than 1,500 people die and nearly 2,300 people get injured, including many children, due to UXO-related causes.

Immediately after the war, the Vietnamese Government has worked tirelessly to deal with the situation through many programmes and projects, spending between 80-100 million USD each year on the task despite the country’s economic difficulties.

In April 2010, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung approved the National Action Programme on Settling the Consequences of UXOs (known as Programme 504) for the 2010-2025 period with the aim of mobilising domestic and international resources to clear UXO and help victims integrate into society.

From 2010 to 2015, the programme aims to conduct surveys and develop a complete map of UXO contamination across the country and build a national database on the field besides regular activities of demining and educational campaigns. In 2012-2013, nearly 100,000 ha of land were cleared from UXOs. The UXO map has been completed while information of 49 out of the country’s 63 provinces has been fed into the national database.

In 2016-2025, the programme is expected to perform clearance of bombs and mines over about 800,000 ha, and continue to boost information and its cooperation with foreign agencies to disarm UXO.

Vietnam has also signed Memoranda of Understanding on cooperation in tackling the UXO issue with the US Government, the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and the International Centre (IC). At the same time, the country is working with foreign partners in the field in the framework of the United Nations’ Development Programme (UNDP) and the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+). Many countries and international organisations also provided support in the forms of human resource, techniques and experience sharing.

Last year, the Vietnam Mine Action Centre (VNMAC) was established with the aim of coordinating funding sources and relevant bodies to develop and implement long-term, medium-term and short-term action plans and specific targets for post-war bomb and mine clearance.

The US army used more than 15 million tonnes of bombs and mines in the war in Vietnam, four times the amount used in World War 2. As a result, Vietnam has been listed among the countries most contaminated with unexploded ordnance (UXOs).

According to the National Steering Committee for Programme 504, about 800,000 tonnes of UXOs are scattering across 6.6 million hectares, or 20.12 percent of the country’s land, mainly in the central region, putting people in danger every day.

The Technology Centre for Bomb and Mine Disposal under the Engineering Command reported that more than 88 percent of the communes in the country’s 63 provinces are polluted with UXO (7,645 out of 8,686).

Vietnam, Cambodia navies reviewed joint patrol

The Vietnam People's Navy and the Royal Cambodian Navy met in An Thoi town, Phu Quoc island district, Kien Giang province on November 12 to review their 18th joint patrol.

The two sides also discussed other issues related to activities on the sea and cultural and sports exchanges between the two naval forces.

They agreed that through a hotline and the 18th meeting, the two sides will coordinate to deal with issues arising from the use of the sea and together with local armed forces and authorities, provide legal education for fishermen to help them avoid any violation of the law on the sea and sovereignty over territorial waters of other countries

They will coordinate to handle issues relating to social order and security, and search and rescue in the spirit of solidarity and friendship for mutual benefit.

They will also share experience in building and training of their naval forces.

Landslides hit southern district

A state of emergency was declared in the Hong Ngu District in the southern Dong Thap Province on Wednesday due to extensive landslides caused by rising waters in the Cai Vung River.

The provincial People's Committee ordered the Dong Thap Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to immediately evacuate the danger zone, set up warning signs and limit traffic along the river banks.

The department will also conduct an investigation to evaluate the scope of the damage, set up a perimeter and find a solution to minimise more landslides along a 200 metre stretch of river bank.

The local People's Committees has been ordered to help relocate local citizens and provide financial and medical support for those in need.

"There have been 27 landslides reported since the beginning of the year along a 1,124 metre long stretch," said Nguyen Trang Su, chairman of the local People's Committee.

"Hong Ngu District has the most landslides in the province."

Although no fatalities have been reported so far, landslides have destroyed two houses, forced 23 households to relocate and caused more than US$70,000 worth of damage.

"It is getting worse by the day and we cannot dismantle our houses and move them out of the danger zone because they are permanent structures," said Su.

Local authorities have ordered the river banks to be reinforced but said more landslides were unlikely and more areas would be affected before the end of the flood season.