One Village Health Worker’s Environmental Sanitation Push

CWS Vietnam | June 15, 2019

    CWS WASH Officer leads a conversation about safer garbage management. Photo: CWS

    By Nguyen Van Ty, CWS Vietnam WASH Program Officer.

    Rom is a big northern Vietnamese village with 137 families from the Tay ethnic minority group. People earn their living from planting, harvesting and selling upland rice. They grow and sell maize, sweet potatoes and some vegetables too. So, the village’s economic development is going well. But people’s modest prosperity and modern conveniences are making a new problem: trash!

    Nong Van Tien, who is Rom government health worker, notes: “Trash has increased a lot in recent years. To see it, you just need to go to the village stream and will see lots of plastic bags with solid waste inside floating in the water. People just litter it freely with no care of polluting [our once-clear stream]”. Because he remembers when the stream was clean not so long ago, Tien was motivated to work with CWS team members to address the problem. And, he was very happy when about 90 people joined a CWS hosted gathering in the village Culture House to talk about garbage management.

    During their time together, Rom’s citizens heard details of our garbage disposal in streams and fields is not only ugly. It hurts people’s health in many ways, too. Interested to prevent this harm, people learned how to classify and manage their garbage. For example, they realized that inorganic waste can be collected and dumped safely in designated bins, and organic kitchen waste can be safely discarded to break down in back-yard pits called banana circles. And, it was noted, plastics, metal cans and glass bottles can be sold for recycling – if they are not reused at home.

    As an immediate result of the gathering, four large trash collection bins were given by CWS and, importantly, Tien and several others committed to make banana circles and household trash bins for waste that cannot be put safely in the circle or reused and recycled. It’s a small start, Tien realized. But CWS team members stand ready to help others follow their neighbors’ good examples and move toward being a cleaner village in the future much as in the past.

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