Environmental issues in Vietnam

Environmental issues in Vietnam number many, due to the effects of the Vietnam War, as well as the country's rapid industrialization following the economic reforms in 1986 knows as Doi Moi. According to the State of the Environment 2001 published by the government, the main issues are land degradation, forest degradation, loss of biodiversity, water pollution, air pollution and solid waste management.[1] More recently, climate change was added as a major concern because Vietnam is considered to be one of the most seriously impacted by climate change according to a World Bank study in 2007.[2]

The Vietnam Environment Administration, a branch of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), is responsible for environmental issues in Vietnam. At the provincial level, the Departments of Natural Resources and the Environment (DONRE) bear responsibility. Non-governmental organizations, such as the Institute of Ecological Economics, also play a role.


Between 1961 and 1971, U.S military forces dispersed more than 19 million gallons of herbicidal agents over the Republic of Vietnam, including more than 12 million gallons of the dioxin-contaminant commonly known as Agent Orange. Research that studied subsequent effects of the contamination have been comparatively limited.[3] Data from 2009 totalled the amount of arable land for total land use to be approximately 20 percent, while permanent crops that do not require replanting after harvest total approximately 7 percent of the entire available land.[4]

The people of Vietnam have shown significant growth in development through economic reform plans that were initiated in 1986, known as Doi Moi. The business and agricultural reforms successfully created more than 30,000 private businesses, and poverty declined from about 50 percent to 29 percent of the population from the early 1990s to 2005.[5] However, reports have shown that due to the significant population growth as a result, protected areas within the environmental sector are often overlooked when nearby land is developed, which creates conflict between area conservation plans versus land development and planning.[6]

Clean water accessibility

Fresh water is accessible to 99% of the citizens in the range of one kilometer.[7] In the urban water supply exists a big difference between large and small cities. Tap water is a readily available water supply in large cities such as Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, covering nearly the entire population, whereas in smaller cities, there is a 60% variability.[8]

In rural areas, fresh water within a one kilometer range is accessible for 75% of the population, but only 51% of rural households have access to hygienic latrines.[9]

Around 60% of the Water Producing Companies (WPCs) are involved in the water market in urban areas. However the supply so far is in the hands of the Government. The WPCs reduce their activities to the production of water.[10]

In rural areas, hand dug wells remain the most important source of water as 39%-44% still rely on it. Only 10% of the rural population is supplied with piped water.[11]

Water pollution causes the greatest damage in the Mekong Delta. The delta is considered as Vietnam´s rice bowl. Water pollution caused by the rapid growing industry results in high rates of diarrhea since most people in this region depend on surface water of the river.[12]

Common waterborne diseases in Vietnam are cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, bacterial diarrhea, and hepatitis A.[13] In the case of Cholera, even though the number of death caused by cholera hasn’t been more than 2 since 1996, the number of reported cases of Cholera is still significantly high. Caused by drinking water contaminated by bacterium, the number of reported Cholera is well above 500, reaching 1900 in 2007, and 600 in 2010.[14] The fatality rate of Cholera has been close to 0% since 1999.[15] In 2009, the number of diarrhea diseases reported was 296000 in total.[16] According to WHO, the number of water, sanitation, and hygiene attributable death in 2004 in Viet Nam was 5938.[17] A surprising fact was that out of 5938 deaths, 4905 were children under 5 years which means that the children were the main victims of the water, sanitation and hygiene problem.

Air pollution

Vietnam is a rapidly developing country with over 90 million people as of 2014 [18] Rapid development combined with deforestation, few or nonexistent vehicle emission standards, polluting gasoline motorbikes, and poor urban planning have caused poor air quality in major cities.

See also


  1. State of the Environment 2001
  2. Waibel, Michael. 2008. "Implications and Challenges of Climate Change for Vietnam," Pacific News, 29, pp. 26-27,
  3. http://www.agentorangerecord.com/images/uploads/Stellman1537(2)(1).pdf
  4. http://data.worldbank.org/country/vietnam
  5. http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/profiles/Vietnam.pdf
  6. http://www.mekong-protected-areas.org/vietnam/docs/vietnam-pad.pdf
  7. World Bank, World Development Indicators 2011
  8. World Bank - Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Credit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for the Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Project - Report No: 59385 - VN (28.04.2011)
  9. Vietnam Rural Water Supply and Sanitation National Target Programme, Joint Annual Review 2011
  10. World Bank - Project Appraisal Document on a Proposed Credit to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam for the Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Project - Report No: 59385 - VN (28.04.2011)
  11. Netherlands Development Organization - Study of Rural Water Supply Service Delivery Models in (2011)
  12. "Mekong Delta Water Resources Assessment Studies". Partners Voor Water. Retrieved 15 February 2012.
  13. http://www.indexmundi.com/vietnam/major_infectious_diseases.html
  14. http://apps.who.int/ghodata/
  15. http://apps.who.int/ghodata/
  16. WHO, department of measurement and health information, 2009 February
  17. http://apps.who.int/ghodata/
  18. http://worldometers.info

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Library of Congress Country Studies website http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/.

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