Meeting Mr. Yen after quite some time, I was happy to hear his happy voice saying, “You see. Our stream is now clean! There is no more garbage in it and the water is crystal clear. The air and breezes seem fresh again”. Mr. Yen heads Bai U village in northern Vietnam, and he always worries about the degrading natural environment in the area. As a large and populous commune with intensive tea farming, Phuc Thuan commune, where Bai U is, produces a huge amount of garbage. And, until recently, people just tossed litter everywhere – on farmland or in streams so, as time went by, trash that did not flow downstream heaped up and became a health hazard for Bai U’s people.
Realizing this threat, in addition to promoting sanitary latrine building in Bai U, CWS staff teamed up with local duty-bearers and village heads, including Mr Yen, to mobilize for community garbage collection. Now, with each family contributing to a small fee for the service, a truck comes to collect garbage weekly and take it to a safe district landfill. With this system working well now, many families are reducing waste even more by using what they have learned about garbage separation — organic from inorganic – and safe inorganic waste disposal at home.
No wonder Mr. Yen’s has happiness in his voice! Leaving the commune I think of Mr. Yen, a man who keeps working hard for the sake of the community, and strongly believe that Bai U will continue to be a model village for others to follow.
Ty Nguyen is Water/Sanitation Program Officer of CWS Vietnam.