Vietnam has experienced a high urbanisation rate over the past years. Recent data from UN Habitat anticipate that by 2020 34,7 % of Vietnam's population will live in urban areas. The existing urban infrastructure, however, is already at the current urban population rate insufficient to provide for environmentally appropriate wastewater and solid waste disposal. Wastewater collection and treatment plants hardly exist in Vietnam or are in a rather poor condition respectively. Solid waste disposal rarely meets international environmental standards.
Fragmented legislation, uncoordinated urban planning, limited investments and institutional hindrances, insufficient operational cost recovery for the operation and maintenance of operator assets as well as low environmental awareness among the population are the main reasons for the deficits in the sector. Rising water demand and increased soil sealing negatively affect the already existing waste and wastewater disposal problems in the urban centres. Beside the wastewater- and solid waste- induced risks, the urban population increasingly suffers from severe seasonal flooding.
Altogether, the environment is severely polluted and public health in cities as well as down-stream rural areas are at risk.
Vietnam's development goals represent ambitious targets for urban infrastructure development and public services. Among others, 90% of the urban population shall have access to safe drinking water, 100% of the urban wastewater shall be collected and treated, and 100% of domestic solid waste is disposed in accordance to the prevailing environmental standards by 2020. These objectives correspond to the goals formulated under MDG 7 (protection of the environment and sustainable usage of natural resources) of the UN Millennium Declaration.
The programme aims at improved conditions for sustainable wastewater and solid waste management, particularly in the supported provincial cities. This includes enhanced operational capacities of supported wastewater companies (organisation, management and operations), the gradual introduction of cost-covering wastewater tariffs, stakeholder participation as well as fostering of cooperation and utilisation of experiences at national, regional and local level via improved framework conditions.