Viet Nam

Viet Nam: Charity helps capital get back on track after floods

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People nationwide have contributed US$85,000 to help urgent relief efforts for recent flood victims. The donations arrived only one day after the Ha Noi People's Committee made a national aid appeal for recovery endeavour.

All financial support should be sent to account number 92090001 in the State Treasury or directly to the city's natural calamity control fund, according to the committee.

The Ha Noi People's Committee has asked leaders of district-level people's committees and all relevant agencies to implement wide-scale clean-up activities of the local environment, food safety and general epidemic prevention.

Specifically, the district-level people's committees have encouraged people to clean their houses, offices, public places and other surroundings, sterilise water sources and take appropriate care of transport waste and dumping areas as well.

The health department has supported the plea by providing medicine, sterilisation equipment and health technicians.

These health officers will teach residents the necessary skills to ensure proper methods are implemented for epidemic prevention and food safety.

Citizens have taken the call for support to heart, with tens of thousands of people taking part in local clean-up activities around the city.

Mobile doctor teams have been dispatched by the health department to several areas of the city for ten days to evaluate people's health, sterilise water sources and spray chemicals. The aim is to ensure prevention of health problems such as eye infections and the spread of infectious diseases, such as diarrhoea, according to Le Anh Tuan, department director.

The department has supplied free medicine for people suffering from water-borne diseases such as intestinal problems, rashes, itching and sore-eyes. Forty tonnes of Cloramine B for the sterilisation of household water sources have also been provided.

People in some neighbourhoods are still suffering from submerged homes and a lack of necessary assistance, however.

"We had to stray from Tran Duy Hung Street to seek out Environmental Hygiene Company workers and pay them VND50,000 ($3.1) to enter our lane to collect the domestic waste because they didn't want to walk through the water," said Pham Quynh Nhu in Cau Giay District.

"We have been informed that we will get free Cloramine B, but when we went to the commune-level people's committee we were required to follow a complicated request procedure and were then told to wait," said Le Thi Chung on Thai Ha Street.

"So far we have received nothing except for some leaflets that describe how to treat contaminated water, which we can't do because we don't have the necessary Cloramine B," said Chung.

Chung and Nhu hope that with broad encouragement from city officials, they will soon receive more assistance to protect their health.

Pulling the plug

On Sunday, Nguyen The Thao, chairman of the Ha Noi People's Committee, decided to use VND20 billion ($1.25 million) of the city's budget to buy 69 pumps to boost water drainage in the suburbs.

Southern districts of the city, including Hoai Duc, Thanh Oai, Quoc Oai, Phu Xuyen and My Duc, are still seriously flooded. The new city pumps, and even individual household models, are necessary to pump water from the areas to restore daily life and productivity.

Tomorrow, phase two of the Yen So Pump Station upgrade will begin. The drainage project will increase the station's capacity to 90 cu.m per second, double its current capacity. A total investment of $370 million is needed for the project.

Phase two of the project will also include a 27 km canal, upgrades to nine local reservoirs, and improvements to the waste water treatment station in Bay Mau Lake. The river valleys of To Lich, Truc Bach, Kim Nguu, Lu and Set will see the construction of a 30 km culvert and sites for mud dumping will be built.

This project phase will ensure that by the end of 2011, there will be enough capacity to handle up to 310 mm of rainfall per day.

The first phase of the drainage project resulted in a capacity of 45 cu.m per second at the Yen So Pump Station, to the tune of $180 million investment. Sewer systems were also constructed near the To Lich, Lu, Set and Kim Nguu rivers to drain the flood waters from the inner city.

Le Hong Quan, the Deputy Director of the Ha Noi Water Drainage Management Board, said that the first phase had only enough water drainage capacity to process 172mm of rainfall per day. The recent floods saw up to 600 mm per day, far exceeding capacity.

The western area of the city, including Pham Hung, Le Duc Tho and Tran Duy Hung streets, was seriously flooded because the Nhue River valley drainage system has yet to be built. "This area of the city will have to wait for proper flood control until the completion of this project," said Quan.

An inspection of the city's drainage projects will be implemented in 2009. "The inspection will help clarify the investment efficiency of the project and determine how well funds were used," said Mai Quoc Binh, deputy chief of the Government Inspectorate.

N.Hieu - P.Hoa.