As with all such movements, the best way to ensure success is to begin at grassroots level.
VietNamNet Bridge – The environment is a hot global issue these days and Vietnam is joining the rest of the world in raising public awareness of climate change, environmental sanitation, and poverty reduction to improve living conditions and save our planet.
Photo: VOV The Red River Delta Water Supply and Sanitation Project (RRD WSSP), a two phase World Bank funded infrastructure project, is constructing water supply and treatment systems in several north eastern provinces. Phase 1, funded at USD46.7 million, is being implemented in approximately 120 communes in Nam Dinh, Thai Binh, Hai Duong and Ninh Binh provinces from 2005 through 2012. Thang Long Infrastructure Development JSC (Infra-TL), a Vietnamese company based in Hanoi, is developing and consulting for the Project's information, education, and communication (IEC) component, and working with provincial Project Management Units (PMUs) and organisations such as the Vietnamese Women's Union to help the local people connect to the new water supply systems, build hygienic toilets, promote environmental sanitation, and acquire the basic knowledge to improve their health and living conditions.
Proper rubbish disposal is a major problem in Vietnam today, and even more so in advanced industrialised countries. Development and population growth mean an increase in the amount of rubbish produced, particularly non-organic, non-biodegradable plastics so ubiquitous in modern society. Vietnamese people are traditionally outstanding recyclers and should be a model for industrialised societies, but plastic shopping bags and packaging cannot be recycled and they are piling up across the countryside causing an environmental problem it is imperative to solve.
To facilitate this, "Green Saturday" campaigns have got underway in the abovementioned provinces, southeast of Hanoi, to educate local people about the importance of a clean environment and support their efforts in improving their living standards. The main objective is to raise community awareness of the issues and enable people to maintain a clean environment by collecting and disposing of rubbish properly every day, and working together to clean up public areas on "Green Saturdays."
Communes are establishing local rubbish collection teams and the Project provides them with trolleys to collect household rubbish on a regular basis. The trolleys are built locally and officially presented to the rubbish teams at a ceremony to launch the "Green Saturday" campaign in each commune.
The launch ceremony is a gala occasion for everyone in the commune to participate. A stage is set and festively decorated in a central location, and banners with environmental slogans are hung along the streets to encourage people to clean up their villages. Present in large numbers are children wearing their school jackets and bearing flags and signs indicating their village; they enthusiastically beat drums and sing songs to rally support for the clean-up campaign.
After a curtain raiser with songs and dances, the PMU director, commune leaders, and captain of the rubbish collection team make speeches to encourage the people to participate in the environmental campaign. The trolleys are presented to the rubbish team by the PMU director and commune leader, and "christened" by ringing their attached bells that will be used to call people to deposit their rubbish on collection days. Finally, everyone follows the team out into the streets to pick up rubbish and transport it to the communal/village dumping site.
Such ceremonies are only the beginning of a long term effort to improve conditions in the communes. It is hoped that commune leaders and communication boards will continue to encourage and remind people about environmental sanitation regularly, and support the rubbish collection teams in their routine job. The bottom line is that everyone in the community is committed to joining hands and working towards a "greener", healthier and more beautiful Vietnam.
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