In a story typical of rural Vietnam: poor families can’t afford to buy land and work as hired labourers. Ironically, as the rains pour the work dries up and there is no income whatsoever. Close to 300 families in this community have been identified as destitute by the local government, meaning their income per capita is less than $20 USD per month.
The slow economic growth of Nguyen Van Thanh has left its people with inadequate infrastructure and poor access to social services such as education and healthcare. But it’s the shortage of clean water and poor sanitation that pose the most serious threats to health.
Most of the families we spoke to were aware of the hazards of drinking the stream water and the many diseases contractible from doing so: polio, hepatitis and infections from parasites such as hookworm, to name just a few. Many families spend a high proportion of their meagre income just to buy water.
In the rainy season from May to November every year, they are able to use rain water for drinking purposes but without a tank they can’t collect enough for domestic use, such as washing clothes, cleaning and cooking.