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Oct 19 2004
Supplied or written by Tran Hoai - Director of Hue Community Education
PUBLIC WATER SERVICE IN HUE CITY - VIETNAM
By Mr. Tran Hoai - Director of Hue Community Education
ASEM People's Forum5 in Hanoi,Vietnam September 2004

First of all, I would like to thank the organizer for inviting me to this Forum and speak about the public water services. This topic I presented at the special day - Declaration of Water as Human Right that was taken place in Rome in December last year. I will not talk about further about this because it has been mentioned already by some speakers in this morning.

1. Briefly introduction about Hue city.

Hue City is an ancient capital of Vietnam. It is located in the Central region of Vietnam, has a long history and rich culture with a complex of historical monuments and a court music symphony which are recognized as the World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Hue is a cultural and tourist city of Vietnam. These make Hue become an important and attractive cultural place in the world map. It means that the fresh water supply service is not only provided to the local people but also to the visitors (there are annually about half million foreign visitors and one million of domestic one). Hue City has an area of 70 km2 and a population of 300,000 residents.

2. Fresh water supply in Vietnam and Hue:

For past years, the national Government of Vietnam has successfully implemented a number of national programmes on fresh water and put them in its national priority programmes with an aim to increase quality of people life. In implementing the overall objectives of the national programmes, beside the promotion of socialization of water and hygiene improved activities, Hue municipality has focused its priority investment in implementing projects and programmes such as planning of socio-economic development, especially in upgrading and extension of fresh water supply system in the City and its neighbouring districts. The main water production plant is being doubled its capacity and other supply plants are also built in industrial zones and in towns. Presently, an integrated public fresh water supply system has being established to supplement water in case of necessity. With these efforts, the rate of people having access to fresh water has been increasing, in 2003 it is 95% (100% in urban area and 93.7% in rural area). The objective for 2004 is 99% people having access to fresh water and in 2005 is 100%.

Water supply in Hue is made by Hue Water Supply Company. It is a public one acting as an advisory company to the Municipality in effective management and proper use of water sources. The company is responsible for producing and providing fresh water services to the people living in the city and its neighbouring districts. The Company has two water production plants in city which are located at the up stream of Huong river.

3. Water management and policies:

Municipal government's water policies and management are mainly on the followings:
- Water sources for an appropriate supply quality, availability and exploitation (production);
- Planning of and investment in water supply for a balance between production and usage;
- Response to and resolution of emergency situations such as treatment of water source.

When talking about water issue we have to mention the relationship between demand and supply. It is a very important factor and condition for water supply management and decision-making.

In our experience of water supply policies and management, the attention has been paid to local people's raising awareness of water saving and avoid of water losses. Many measures have been taken to deal with these problems in collaboration with local people.

4. With regard to the public - private partnership, I think that there should be a general strategy so that we can mobilize resources in the society. This has been done in Vietnam in big cities like Hochiminh and Hanoi. In Vietnam, we have a common motto: "State and people do together", based on the principle "people know, people discuss, people and people supervise". It means that there is a public-private partnership in planning, investment decision and implementation of water supply services.

Private sector is a good way to contribute to and suitable with fresh water supply in populated residential areas where the public services can not cover. However, private sector has some weak points such as they just focus on doing their business and getting as much profits as possible, but not pay attention to other matters like water quality or social aspects (supply of services to the poor) and master planning. Therefore, when we discuss the public - private partnership we have to be aware of the nature or characteristic of water issue and social issue, because water is a human right, not only an asset.

To this end, I think that the role of public sector is very important in solving the macro issue related to water supply. Our experience showed that only public sector could fully cover aspects of master planning, investment and solve emergency situations. For example, in the biggest flood occurred in 1999 - an historical one for last century, the whole city was flooded with 1.5 m high. Right after the flood, all resources of Water Supply Company were mobilized to supply immediately fresh water for the local residents and solve the problems of hygiene and sanitation. This is a more social response not just a service supply. In this case, the private sector fails to be able to do it. It is in this period, the important role of public fresh water service is seen and highly appreciated.

Finally, it is important to realize the nature of water issue and social aspects.

Thank you very much for your listening.


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