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Social News 30/8

 Rapid land sinking south of HCMC; Vietnam reports no cases of Ebola infections; WB helps Dong Thap improve medical waste treatment; Over 180 prisoners granted amnesty on National Day

Rapid land sinking south of HCMC

The fast pace of urbanization and excessive exploitation of underground water have led to a rapid land subsidence in HCMC, especially in the southern and southwestern parts with an average sinking rate of four to five millimeters a year.

The warning is stated in the project called “HCMC moving toward the sea with climate change adaptation – phase 1” approved by the city government recently.

HCMC exploited around 600,000 cubic meters of underground water a day ten years ago, which results in land sinking at present, which will continue in the coming time even if the amount of water pumped is lower.

Jakarta City in Indonesia also faced a severe land subsidence with an average sinking rate of 20 centimeters a year as the city had not controlled exploitation of underground water efficiently, according to the project.

HCMC is confronting with fast urbanization to house its population of around ten million, which narrows spaces for green areas and affects underground water  resources.

To reduce land subsidence, the city aims to limit water exploitation by promoting water-saving technologies in industries and launching campaigns to raise citizens’ awareness of effective water use.

This year, HCMC pumps around 669,000 cubic meters of underground water a day and of this volume, nearly 35,000 cubic meters is exploited by enterprises in eight export processing and industrial zones.

According to the city’s plan on water use toward 2025, it will exploit and use water from the Dong Nai and Saigon rivers and limit underground water exploitation to only 100,000 cubic meters a day in 2025.

Cheap and delicious food not a thing of the past

While many have noted a marked increase in the price of food in the capital, there are still several stalls that are locally famous for selling quality Hanoian breakfast for reasonable prices.

The sticky rice stall on Hang Hom Street attracts many regular customers, charging only VND5,000. Having been in business for years, the store offers several options. Customers begin to arrive around 6am and sometimes jostle to make their orders. The store regularly sells out around 8am. Here, the price for a breakfast that can feed a whole family is equivalent to that of a bowl of noodles.

Another store selling crab noodles in the small alley of Phat Loc is also locally famous for cheap prices and delicious food.

These store-owners sell their delicacies for VND7,000, about a quarter of the price one would find elsewhere. The options of adding beef, tofu or pork is also an incentive for customers.

In addition to cheap breakfast, Hanoi’s Old Quarter is also home to a number of special places for drinking. Ta Hien Street is a place for lovers of bia hoi, who seem to love the view as much as the chilled glasses of beer, which cost only VND5,000.

Increased promotional efforts for Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve

The management board of Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve approved plans to further promote the reserve at a meeting on August 26.

Accordingly, the board will implement measures to promote the reserve’s image in Vietnam and abroad, including publishing the book “Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve – where humans and nature meet” and encouraging investments in tourism activities exploring the reserve’s history, culture and environment.

In addition, 12 projects will be set up to manage, restore and preserve the reserve’s biodiversity between 2015 and 2020, focusing on managing the reserve’s core and buffer areas, collecting information on transition areas, establishing brands for local specialties and generating additional funds for the reserve’s activities.

The Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve was recognised by UNESCO as a world biosphere reserve in early 2012.

Since then, a number of activities have been implemented to increase public awareness of the reserve, including the distribution of information handbooks and promotional materials, the organisation of forums about the reserve and the implementation of forest preservation and development projects.

The Dong Nai Biosphere Reserve covers an area of more than 966,000ha spreading over five provinces, namely the central highlands provinces of Lam Dong and Dak Nong, and the southern provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Phuoc and Binh Duong.

The reserve covers a range of habitat types, from lowland forests and mountain forests to river ecosystems. The area is home to more than 1,400 species of plants, and nearly 2,000 rare and valuable animal species. Furthermore, a number of historic relics are contained within the reserve.-

Vietnam funds rehab centre for Lao war invalids

Vietnam has doled out VND48 billion in non-refundable aid to Thoulakhom district in Laos for the construction of a 40 bed Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Centre for war invalids and disabled people.

At the groundbreaking ceremony on August 28, Lao Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Baykham Khattiya expressed his country’s gratitude for the invaluable assistance of the Vietnamese Government and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

She noted the support will help war invalids and disadvantaged people improve their health conditions, better integrate into community and lead a more productive and rewarding life.

The assistance contributes to further strengthening special relations and comprehensive cooperation between the two countries, she said.

Construction of the centre is scheduled for completion in 2016.

Vietnam reports no cases of Ebola infections

No cases of Ebola infections have been detected in Vietnam so far and the health sector is keeping a close watch on 128 people who have entered the country from Ebola-infected nations from August 11-26.  

The statement was made by Dr Tran Dac Phu, head of the preventive health department under the Ministry of Health (MoH) in Hanoi on August 28.

The MoH said that around 10 people are travelling to Vietnam from Ebola-infected nations on average each day. Of the 128 people, around 30 are Vietnamese citizens who returned home from Liberia and the remainder, foreigners, flew from Nigeria.

At present, the MoH has set up action plans to contain the disease in case there is an Ebola outbreak. Other measures taken include the requirement for all travellers from Ebola-infected nations to complete a medical declaration form prior to admission into the country at all international border gates.

Dr Phu emphasised that the MoH has regularly contacted those entering Vietnam to strictly monitor their health. The department’s report showed that none of Vietnamese citizens have contracted the contagious disease.

Dr Phu said the health sector will continue monitoring passengers at Vietnam’s international airports and in the community for early detection. It will also mobilise sufficient human resources, medicine and equipment to cope with a possible outbreak.

Thua Thien-Hue’s farmtrip surveys Southwestern tourism

A famtrip delegation led by the Depratment of Culture, Sport and Tourism of Thua Thien-Hue Province visited Southwestern region’s cities and provinces from August 23-26.

The Thua Thien-Hue tourism industry signed cooperation agreement on developing tourism with its partners, including Can Tho, Bac Lieu and Ca Mau during famtrip.

The delegation visited some of popular tourist sites, such as Ca Mau cape, Uncle Ho Memorial House; memorial area of the southern amateur traditional music and musician Cao Van Lau; Cong Tu Bac Lieu (Prince of Bac Lieu) House; Quan Am Phat Dai (the Goddess of Mercy) pagoda, Xiem Can Pagoda, Ninh Kieu pier, Cai Rang floating market, Truc Lam Phuong Nam (southern) Zen monastery, My Khanh tourist village and more.

The farmtrip is part of a special tourism promotion programme “Gold Tourism Month” which will be taken place in Hue City from September 2-30, marking the National Day (September 2).

Visitors will have the chance to enjoy a discount on entrance tickets to relics and transit service via electric buses. Discounts of 50 percent will be applied to Nha Nhac or royal court music performances and 10-20 percent for other services like souvenir and drink.

Students enjoy free entrance ticket at any sites.

Overseas Vietnamese students create careers back home

While many Vietnamese citizens who study abroad choose not to return, others have found successful careers in their home country.

Many Vietnamese people studying overseas do not want to return Vietnam because they feel there are better opportunities in the country in which they study. Still, others prove this not to be the rule.

Tran Nguyen Le Van finished a masters course in business administration at Thunderbird University in the US, and came up with an idea for trading bus tickets online while at school. Despite strong opposition from his family back home, he pursued the idea.

He said, "While I was studying abroad, I heard about so many stories of Vietnamese people who line up for hours just to get tickets to get home for Tet. I thought, 'What a waste of time!' and decided to start a business to make the process easier."

Refusing the option of staying in the US and finding a job there, he returned Vietnam and set up an online bus ticket trading system. He considers this a contribution to his home country, and he now runs the largest online bus ticket system in the country.

Ly Chi Hieu, an outstanding Vietnamese student in the UK, returned to Vietnam after graduation and set up a system to help young Vietnamese people to obtain scholarships for overseas study.

“I found my career direction when two of my students got scholarships for overseas study. I want to do something to contribute to society here, instead of just trying to make money for myself," Hieu said.

While many people think it silly to return Vietnam after overseas study, Le Nguyen Minh Quang, who is currently director of Bach Solotanche Vietnam, disagrees.

“When you decide to return to Vietnam for work, you will be the first to benefit from that decision. You will also be a benefit to your country. Even when you're sick, you will be happy to see your relatives around you. Also, you can eat traditional Vietnamese food whenever you want," he added.

WB helps Dong Thap improve medical waste treatment

The World Bank (WB) has provided 44 billion VND (2.1 million USD) for the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap to improve its medical waste treatment.

A delegation from the Health Ministry and the WB had a working session with the provincial authorities on August 26 on the implementation of the project, which started in late 2011.

The money has been used to improve the management of waste in five hospitals in the locality. In the coming time, the WB will continue to aid Dong Thap province in dealing with medical waste in another five hospitals.

The aid is part of a 155 million USD project to support medical waste treatment in the five Mekong Delta provinces launched by the ministry and funded by the bank.

The project, carried out between December 2011 and December 2014, aims to minimise environmental pollution caused by medical waste from hospitals in order to improve people’s health.

It set a target of strengthening policies relating to medical waste management and establishing solid and water waste treatment systems for at least 150 hospitals.

US$ 1 million allocated to expand child eye care project in Vietnam’s central region

Over US$ 1 million will be allocated as funding to expand a child eye care service in Vietnam’s central region under a project signed between the Thua Thien – Hue provincial People’s Committee and the ORBIS non-governmental organisation in Hue city on August 27.

The project, to be implemented until June 30, 2018, aims to reduce number of incidents of blindness and visual impairments among children in the region through enhancing the project beneficiaries’ access to eye care services at Hue Eye Hospital as well as retina services for pre-mature infants at Hue Central Hospital.

Under the project, doctors at Hue Eye Hospital will be provided with short training courses to improve their professional skills under the instruction of international experts.

ORBIS is a non-governmental organisation devoted to blindness prevention and treatment in developing countries. The organisation’s Regional Director in Asia, Paul Forrest, said he hoped that the project will help train medical staff working in eye treatment while bringing new opportunities and positive changes for every beneficiary.

Central Highlands give priority to education for ethnic minorities

The Central Highlands provinces have prioritised the improvement of education for ethnic minority children, thus contributing to raising the intellectual standards of the local population and preserving their culture including spoken language and writing.

According to the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands region, most communes in the region now have their own kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools.

Meanwhile, 54 boarding schools and nearly 80 full-time schools have been built and provided with adequate learning and teaching equipment, creating favourable conditions for students from remote areas.

The localities have also collaborated closely with relevant ministries and sectors to research and develop textbooks and teaching material in ethnic minority languages for distribution in schools.

Additionally, the provinces have implemented policies benefitting ethnic minority students, including the provision of textbooks, notebooks, learning supplies and health insurance cards.

According to the steering committee, 1.4 million students throughout the region have registered for the 2014/2015 school year, with 461,000 students belonging to ethnic minority groups.

The Central Highlands comprise the five provinces of Lam Dong, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Kon Tum.-

More households in Can Tho access clean water

The Mekong Delta City of Can Tho has set a goal to bring safe water to 18,315 more local households in 2015.

The figure will bring the rate of water supply coverage in rural areas in the city to 67 percent, an increase of 11 percent compared to the current level said Pham Van Quynh, Director of the municipal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development at an August 27 meeting on the national target programme on clean water and environmental hygiene in rural area.

To achieve the goal, the city will need 72 new water supply stations with a daily capacity of 500-1,000 cu.m, Quynh said, adding that 160 existing stations will also have to be upgraded to raise their capacity from 80 cu.m to 250 cu.m per day, while the supply pipe system should be expanded, at a total cost of 513 billion VND (24.1 million USD).

However, Vice Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee said the city should strive to increase the rate of rural households accessing clean water to over 70 percent next year and over 90 percent in 2020.-

Samsung runs Employee Volunteer Programmes in Vietnam

A group of 114 volunteers from Samsung Electronics is offering educational and cultural activities in the northern province of Bac Ninh and Hanoi.

In collaboration with Global Civic Sharing (GCS) and local authorities, 82 Samsung Electronics Vietnam staff members are organising workshops on Information Technologies for 150 students and teachers in Thuy Hoa (Bac Ninh).

Furthermore, the volunteers will also help build smoke free outdoor kitchens, which are adapted specifically to Vietnam’s climate, for two kindergartens.

This marks the continuation of the “Nanum Village” project, which Samsung Electronics and the People’s Committee of Thuy Hoa have been working on since October 2013.

In Gia Lam ( Hanoi ), 32 employees at Samsung Electronics’ South Korean headquarters have partnered with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the National Economic Technical College (NETC) to arrange IT classes, build an online learning centre, and host cross-cultural events.

Samsung’s Employee Volunteer programmes were launched throughout 2014 in Vietnam, India, Malawi, Brazil, Uzbekistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The programmes in Vietnam will end on August 30.-

Cataract surgery brings about high economic efficiency

Cataract surgery brings about high economic efficiency to Vietnam, according to a latest research VISONARY conducted by Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) and the George Institute for Global Health.

According to the study, cataract surgery helps restore sight to thousands of people and within after one year of the surgery most people can return to work.  The surgery significantly contributes to improving the quality of their lives and their working time and pushing their income up.

It also affords many young children the opportunity to go to school, get a better education and live a more rewarding life.

Around 0.63% of Vietnamese people are blind and cataracts are the leading cause of blindness in the country (accounting for 66%), due to high rates of untreated patients, said Vietnam National Institute of Ophthalmology (VNIO) Director Do Nhu Hon.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the country suffer from blindness each year. Yet more than 30% of blind people do not know that their disease can be treated and nearly one-third of blind people do not have enough money for their treatment.

In recent years, screening and surgery rates have improved, thanks to a handful of well-recognised international organisations such as the FHF and ORBIS.

However, the demand for cataract surgery far outweighs the nation’s financial ability to provide the service and a recent study called for an urgent nation-wide strategy and action plan for blindness prevention in Vietnam.

Opportunity for women’s participation in economic development

The Australian Government hosted a forum for partners from across the region on “ASEAN Integration and Women’s Economic Empowerment in the Mekong” in Hanoi on August 27.

The forum focuses on how women can reach their full economic and social potential. It is also an important channel of discussion between multiple stakeholders to ensure women get the most out of economic development in the context of ASEAN integration.

The Mekong region is becoming more interconnected, and opportunities to examine issues from a regional perspective are very important, said Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, Hugh Borrowman.

He hopes the forum will help devise innovative solutions to critical regional development issues.

ASEAN integration can be a huge boost for women’s economic participation. However, gaps caused by gender inequality such as access to finance, business skills and markets can slow down economic growth. The United Nations has valued the ‘gap’ caused by women ‘missing’ economic participation at US$89 billion in the Asia Pacific each year.

Women can encounter multiple barriers such as unequal laws, inability to meet collateral requirements due to lack of property ownership, harassment in the public sphere, and insufficient business knowledge, capacity and financial literacy. Women also face both direct and indirect discrimination because of gender stereotyping. Traditional beliefs which undervalue women’s capacities and potential are an invisible barrier to their participation.

"Gender Equality" is not only an obligation towards collecting accurate development statistics, but rather a sensible opportunity, as the benefits of including women will pay off with tangible value added in the long term, said Cambodian Minister for Women’s Affairs, Ing Khanthaphavy.

In the context of many social prejudices, the role of women can be enhanced and gender equality achieved only when women are empowered in economic, political and social spheres, said Le Kim Dung, Director General of the International Cooperation Department of Vietnam’s Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs. “As part of a general ASEAN trend, Vietnam has been actively promoting gender equality, empowerment, and women’s economic participation in Vietnam.”

The forum is also an opportunity for participants to share their experiences as women social leaders and entrepreneurs from all sectors, including civil society, academia, the private sector and business associations.

Samsung launches social responsibility initiative

Samsung Electronics (SE) launched a cultural and educational initiative in Thuy Hoa village in Bac Ninh province and Gia Lam district in Hanoi on August 27 as part of its global social responsibility programme.

In Bac Ninh, SE will coordinate with Global Civic Sharing and local authorities to organise information technology (IT) training courses for secondary students and teachers.

SE staff in coordination with the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the National Economics and Technique College will organise a series of activities for local students, such as providing IT training courses, building a Samsung-KOICA online study centre equipped with modern facilities and launching cultural and cuisine festivals

Shim Wonhwan, Samsung Complex Director General said that since Samsung Electronics Vietnam first began operations on 2009, its activities has been focused not only on business and production but on education and environmental protection.

VN students in Australia launch charity drive

Vietnamese students in Sydney, Australia, have organised a Mooncake Charity Sale event on the occasion of the 2014 Mid Autumn Festival to raise funds for poor children in the northern uplands.

Despite their busy study schedule, students in suburb areas of Sydney are taking 3-4 hours out of each day to make mooncakes, which they sell for AUD10 (about VND200,000) each.

To date, they have sold nearly 200 mooncakes, and they are now working hard to meet bulk orders from the local Vietnamese community.

The proceeds will be donated to Vietnamese charitable organisations, helping poor children get a good education.

So far, Vietnamese students in Australia have organised a number of meaningful activities to preserve the national tradition, including the Mid Autumn Festival, contributing to popularising the image of the country’s people, land and culture to international friends.

The Mid Autumn Festival or Full-moon Festival is celebrated by Vietnamese children on the fifth day of the eighth lunar month.

Over 180 prisoners granted amnesty on National Day

As many as 184 inmates in Hanoi have been given clemency on the occasion of National Day (September 2).

Of the pardoned prisoners, 147 receive a reduction of their terms and 37 are released early thanks to their redemption progress.

The prisoners have undergone an open and transparent approval process, said Colonel Nguyen Cong Dung, prison warder at Detention Centre No. 2, where 42 prisoners are granted shorter sentences and six are released.

The clemency not only reflects the Government’s leniency policy, but also encourages prisoners to reform themselves so that they can return to society sooner.

BIDV offers scholarships and computers to Laos

The Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV) on August 28 signed a contract to provide academic scholarships and computers for several ministries of Laos.

During the 2014-2018 period, the bank will provide 50 scholarships for Lao students in three universities in Vietnam and four in Laos, with the aim of improving their knowledge and skills and supporting the country’s construction, development and integration.

These students will also have the chance to work on probation for BIDV, the Lao-Viet Bank, and businesses of the Association of Vietnamese Investors in Laos.

Additionally, BIDV will also give 150 computers to Laos’ Ministries of Defence, Finance and Foreign Affairs to make their work more efficient.

Since 2005, the bank has actively supported social welfare activities in Laos, with focus on education, health, and natural disaster responses, thus contributing to the country’s socio-economic development and the special friendship between the two countries.





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