Improving access to safe water in Vietnam
ISF researchers Naomi Carrard, Joanne Chong, Melita Grant and Ben Madden recently returned from Vietnam where they were collecting data for a study on water service provision for low-income households.
The study is part of Enterprise in WASH, a significant three-year research program funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) looking at the role of private and social enterprise in water and sanitation service delivery.
This part of the research investigates differences in water services for poor and non-poor households. As the number and diversity of water service providers increases, it is important to consider how well different organisations are able to reach low-income households, and what kinds of regulatory and/or support mechanisms might be required to ensure low income households don’t miss out.
Naomi, Joanne, Melita and Ben traveled to three rural communes in northern Vietnam (in the Red River Delta), and three rural communes in the southern Vietnam (in the Mekong Delta) to conduct this research.
The data they collected will help to determine the extent to which low-income households in the case study sites are connected to piped systems provided by a range of service provider types including small scale water entrepreneurs. Interviews were held with Commune leaders, service providers (including private companies that build and deliver water services), and low-income householders. In addition to data about connection rates, they collected information about reasons for non-connection and alternative drinking water sources.
Data is now being analysed to determine whether low-income households are statistically less likely to receive piped water services. The team are also undertaking GIS mapping to explore links between the location of low-income households and water connection rates.
Findings from this research in Vietnam will help to inform governments and service providers to ensure that equity outcomes are considered in the planning and delivery of water services.
Ultimately, the Enterprise in WASH research program will contribute to the development of guidance material for civil society organisations on working effectively with private enterprises in water and sanitation service delivery, and the preparation of policy briefings for government agencies across our case study countries.
For the ISF team, the highlight of the trip was working closely with our partners at Vietnam National University’s Centre for Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (CRES) and East Meets West Foundation (EMWF). We are privileged to be collaborating with these committed and insightful researchers and practitioners.
Enterprise in WASH is part of the Australian Research Development Awards Scheme (ADRAS) and also involves case studies in Indonesia and Timor-Leste. For more information on the program visit enterpriseinwash.info.