Craft village water pollution

17 February 2011 | News story

The craft village industry in Viet Nam has witnessed phenomenal growth in the last 10 years, especially in the Red-Thai Binh River Basin, where 60% of craft industries are located. Craft villages make a major contribution to jobs and income. According to the Vietnam Water Sector Review, craft villages employ about 30% of the rural workforce and the average income per capita in craft villages is up to five times higher than in villages devoted to agriculture.
 

Craft villages are areas with high occupational health risk and exposure to pollution, particularly in small-scale industries with no pollution control technology, worker protection, or wastewater treatment. Almost all village households use their houses and gardens as a production site, with waste discharged directly into the surrounding environment of residential areas, affecting rivers and groundwater sources. Water pollution from craft villages is a serious and growing problem.

To explore the barriers to improved water resources management in craft villages, IUCN commissioned a study of craft village water pollution in Bac Ninh Province by Hanoi Polytechnic University. This study was followed by a water dialogue by the Center for Water Resources Conservation and Development (WARECOD), a local NGO, to gain a better understanding of the governance constraints.

The study and dialogue revealed that there is widespread local recognition of the environmental impacts caused by craft villages but very little progress in addressing the problem. The key finding was that laws regulating pollution and the enforcement of penalties need to be consistently and transparently enforced. The report provides recommendations to assist local community and government implement environmental regulations.

The technical study and water dialogue were carried out under the framework of the Mekong Water Dialogues (MWD), a regional initiative coordinated by IUCN with financial support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The overall goal of the MWD is to improve livelihood security, and human and ecosystem health in the Mekong Region through improved water governance. The Vietnamese version of the water dialogue and an English executive summary are available.