Digital signatures to be used in Can Tho
The Mekong province of Can Tho will use digital signatures in administrative documents such as reports, work schedules and letters of invitation starting March 1, according to the provincial People’s Committee.
Digital signatures were first used for transactions in Viet Nam by the HCM City Department of Post and Telecommunications in 2006.
Launch of low-income housing competition
Local and foreign individuals and organisations are invited to take part in a design contest for low-income housing, which kicked off on Monday in Ha Noi.
Organised by the Viet Nam Association of Architects (VAA) in co-operation with the Ministry of Construction, the contest challenges participants to design low-cost apartments with an area of 25-70 sq.m or devise a scheme to divide large apartments into smaller ones.
“The competition aims to find the best solution for the real estate market in the country. If we can maximize space, housing prices will go down by 20-30 per cent while quality remains the same,” said VAA chairman Nguyen Tan Van.
Entries must be sent to VAA’s office at 22 Dinh Tien Hoang Street, Hoan Kiem District, Ha Noi before April 10.
Twenty injured when bus rolls over
Twenty passengers were hospitalised on Monday afternoon after a bus overturned in southern Binh Phuoc Province’s Dong Phu District.
Eight victims were still being treated yesterday, police said. The 29-seat bus, driven by Do Van Hung, 33, of central Quang Nam Province, was heading to HCM City from the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong.
Witnesses said the bus was being driven at high speed just before the accident, causing concern among the passengers, police reported.
The bus had overturned after the driver allegedly braked sharply, police report.
The case is still under investigation.
Localities urged to prevent traffic accidents
Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked provinces and cities to intensify measures to reduce the number of traffic accidents from across the country.
In an official dispatch signed on February 28, Phuc, who is also Chairman of the National Committee for Traffic Safety, criticised 23 localities for a sharp increase in traffic accidents.
In the first two months of this year, 5,636 traffic accidents have occurred across the country, killing 1,973 people, representing a year on-year fall of 11.69 percent in accident numbers (746), but an increase of 17.79 percent in the death toll (298).
Twenty-three localities that saw the death toll increase by more than 30 percent were Danang, Quang Ninh, Tuyen Quang, Phu Tho, HCM City, Lang Son, Khanh Hoa, Bac Ninh, Vinh Long, Dak Lak, Gia Lai, Can Tho, Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Ha Tinh, Hung Yen, Binh Duong, Binh Thuan, Ninh Thuan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Lai Chau, Yen Bai, and An Giang. Most of traffic accidents happened in rural areas.
Phuc requested provinces and cities deploy all stand-by forces to patrol and dully punish law-breakers. He asked them to enhance the monitoring of passenger transportation on key National Highways, boost communications campaigns, and hold review meetings to work out appropriate solutions.
As of March 15, traffic police are required to punish road users who wear substandard helmets.
Cycle Challenge to raise funds for needy children
The 13th Saigon Cyclo Challenge, an annual event that raises funds to provide educational opportunities for disadvantaged children, will be held on March 10 at the Crescent area in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 7.
The event will feature a cyclo race, a cyclo deco challenge, a grand charity bazaar and many fun attractions including cheerleading teams, kids’ activities, magic shows, lucky draws as well as free refreshments.
Saigon Children’s Charity (SCC), the main event organizer, has said that eight teams will join the Cyclo Challenge: HSBS, Hoang Long Hoan Vu, TNK Vietnam, Crown, Giant, Pizza Hut, Yan TV/YNews and SCC All-Star.
First prize will be a trip to Sailing Bay resort in Mui Ne, a voucher from Dae Jang Gum Restaurant and tickets to the Galaxy Cinema.
The runner up will get a voucher from Hoang Yen Hot Pot Restaurant, and third place winner will receive a voucher from the Brotzeit Restaurant.
Every year, SCC supports more 3,500 children through key activities, including building new schools and upgrading old existing classrooms, creating green leaning environments, supplying learning accessories to poor students as well as conducting training courses in English, computer, art, photography, hairdressing and hospitality.
Last year’s event raised more than VND700 million (US$34,000).
Danang to open first dioxin detox centre
The Danang City People’s Committee plans to build its first dioxin detoxification centre in 2013.
The committee asked the city’s Association for Victims of Agent Orange to work with relevant agencies to complete legal procedures for the centre’s operations.
The association has sent 10 doctors and medical officials to a dioxin detoxification centre in Thai Binh province for training.
RoK funds US$52 million hospital in Yen Bai
Construction began on a general hospital worth US$52 million in Phuc Loc Commune in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai on February 28.
The hospital, covering 36,000sq.m, is designed to provide medical services including internal treatment, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and orthopedics upon its completion in June 2015.
The Export-Import Bank of Korea will finance US$45 million through the Economic Development Co-operate Fund using ODA from the Republic of Korea.
Australian foundation helps improve eye care
Australia’s Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) has provided an additional US$117,000 for Hue eye hospital in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue to improve community eye care services.
Director of Hue eye hospital Pham Minh Tuong said that FHF has funded Thua Thien-Hue province’s community eye care since 2006 with a sum of over US$1 million.
In 2013-2015, the foundation will help the hospital train eye doctors and nurses and upgrade equipment in the districts of Nam Dong, Phong Dien and Phu Loc.
During the 2010-2012 period, FHF supported the building of Hue eye hospital in Hue city through the Australian Government’s Initiative to prevent and treat avoidable blindness.
The five-storey hospital has 70-100 beds for inpatients and can serve between 100-200 outpatients a day.
FHF also implemented the US$547,000 project to improve eye care capacity in Phu Vang, Phong Dien and A Luoi districts, helping examine 35,000 children with refraction and treat 1,500 people with cataract.
UNDP assists Vietnam in sustainable poverty reduction
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has coordinated with the Republic Ireland to help Vietnam implement a project on sustainable poverty reduction during the 2012-2016 period.
The project aims to support the implementation of the Vietnamese Government’s Resolution 80/NQ-CP on directions of sustainable poverty reduction (2011-2020) and the National Target Programme on Sustainable Poverty Reduction (2011-2015).
It is being implemented in eight pilot provinces of Ha Giang, Dien Bien, Cao Bang and Bac Kan in the north, Thanh Hoa and Quang Ngai in the central region, Kon Tum in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh.
Through encouraging the involvement of the poor and intensifying the implementation and management of programmes and policies on poverty reduction, the project is expected to contribute to accelerating poverty reduction in the poorest and ethnic minority regions.
Last year, over 50 percent of ethnic minorities in Vietnam lived under the poverty line, of which 31 percent faced food shortage.
Poverty reduction rates in the fields of education, health care, fresh water, hygiene and housing in ethnic minority areas have lagged behind the country’s average.
Issued in 2011, Resolution 80/NQ-CP aims to reduce the rate of poor households by 4 percent per annum with the focus on the most disadvantaged regions nationwide.
Environmental impact of rare earth mining to be assessed
A conference was held on February 28 to build technical guidance for environmental impact assessment reports of the rare earth mining and processing projects in Vietnam.
The event was jointly organised by Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
According to Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Bui Cach Tuyen, the mining of rare earth requires a general environmental evaluation before the projects are started as this is still new to Vietnam.
Tomisaka, a JICA expert, also affirmed that the Japanese Government will support Vietnam with environmental issues in the coming time.
Eliminating and preventing violence against women
Vietnam has demonstrated its ongoing strong political commitment to the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women.
The United Nations (UN) in Vietnam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA) organised a policy dialogue on gender equality to commemorate the 2013 International Women’s Day, in Hanoi on February 28.
The event’s theme is “The Elimination and Prevention of All Forms of Violence against Women and Girls”.
Opening the event, Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, MOLISA Minister and Chairperson of the National Committee for the Advancement of Women in Vietnam, affirmed the government’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment through the further implementation of related gender equality policies and programmes.
The dialogue illustrates the Vietnamese government’s strong message and the breakthrough solutions for the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls as part of the 57th Session of the Commission of the Status of Women.
Ms. Pratibha Mehta, the UN Resident Coordinator in Vietnam, stressed that, “Violence against women has enormous economic cost. Every year, billions of dollars are spent on extra healthcare costs and lost productivity as a result of gender-based violence. We need laws and policies that promote a supportive environment for the realisation of all women’s rights”.
During the event, key milestones and remaining challenges relating to the recent implementation of the Gender Equality Law and the Law on Domestic Violence Prevention and Control were presented by representatives from MOLISA and the Women’s Union.
Key findings from the latest UN research on HIV/AIDS intimate partner transmission were presented, while representatives from several NGOs took the opportunity to share their experience of programmes to promote the rights of women in Vietnam.
Japan Coast Guard visits southern cities
A delegation from the Japan Coast Guard led by Director General of the Guard and Rescue DepartmentKiyoshi Saishoji is visiting the southern cities of Vung Tau and Ho Chi Minh City, from February 27 to March 1.
The delegation is scheduled to pay a cordial visit to leaders of the Vietnam Marine Police Department and have a working session with officers from the Marine Police Zone 3 during the visit.
The tour gives both Japanese and Vietnamese marine police forces the chance to exchange experience to strengthen the cooperation amongst law enforcement forces both in the region and throughout the world.
Vietnamese people urged to use local-made drugs
The Ministry of Health launched a programme “Vietnamese people using Vietnamese drugs” in HCM City on February 27.
This is part of activities to mark the 50th anniversary of Vietnamese Doctors Day (February 26) and respond to the party political bureau’s campaign “Vietnamese people using Vietnamese goods”.
At the launching ceremony, Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien encouraged the public to use local-made drugs in order to promote the development of the pharmaceutical sector.
Currently, Vietnam has 178 drug companies capable of meeting 50 percent of the domestic demand for medicines. All drug manufacturing facilities operate in line with the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards to produce high quality products at cheaper prices than imported medicines.
The programme for stabilization of drug prices in HCM City has given a boost to the use of local-made drugs.
Japan helps Binh Duong build metro line
Japan will help the southern province of Binh Duong build an ODA-funded Suoi Tien-Ho Chi Minh City metro line for the benefit of local socio-economic development.
This was announced by Onuma, an official from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry during a working session with Binh Duong authorities on February 27.
He highlighted Binh Duong’s potential for urban and industrial development, adding that Japanese investment policy makers are keen to support strategic projects, especially those on urban and infrastructure development.
Tran Thanh Liem, Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee said Japan’s development cooperation and investment has paid well over the past years.
The province wished for closer cooperation with the Japanese side to carry out key infrastructure projects to build its first-tier city as approved by the Government, Liem added.
Japan has 171 projects operating in Binh Duong with a total registered capital of over US$3 billion, ranking second among 37 countries and territories investing in the province.
Med school to admit more students
HCM City will increase the enrollment quota for general doctors to be trained at Pham Ngoc Thach Medical University from 620 to 800 to meet the city’s growing demand.
At a meeting to review healthcare activities on Wednesday, officials of the Health Department said the city this year would target having 14 doctors for every 10,000 people.
Last year, the city had 10,500 doctors, or 13.5 per 10,000 people. The number of nurses was 19,428, while there were 4,512 pharmacists.
The city aims to reduce the birth rate to 0.02 per thousand, and the rate of malnourished kids under 5 years old to under 8 per cent.
Last year, the city carried out many programmes to improve the quality of treatment and reduce patient overload, including setting up 48 satellite health offices in 12 district and ward hospitals.
Also, the city last year gave priority to investment in district hospitals, and asked hospitals at the municipal level to provide professional guidance to improve the skills of doctors at district hospitals.
This year, the department will work with people’s committees in districts to increase investment in their health clinics.
The total number of patients who had health check-ups and treatment last year at city hospitals increased by 1 million compared to 2011.
Authorities encourage couples to register cross-border marriages
Nearly 300 unregistered marriages between Vietnamese and Lao people have been reported in the mountainous districts of Huong Hoa and Dakrong of central Quang Tri Province.
These marriages have led these couples, particularly the women and children, to several problems, the local authorities said.
Quang Tri shares a 206-km border line with Laos, which crosses 18 communes in the two districts, home to more than 12,300 households with 58,000 residents.
Trade and exchanges between people living in border areas of the two countries is conducted regularly, leading to a high number of marriages. Often these couples share assets and start families without any legal procedures.
Standing Vice Chairman of the provincial Bar Association Vo Cong Hoan said there were many reasons why these couples did not often apply for marriage registration.
“The lack of knowledge that local people and judicial officers have about the procedure as well as differences in marriage registration regulations in the two countries are to blame for the problem,” he said.
“It is also caused by the traditions and customs of local people. Pako and Van Kieu ethnic minority people, for example, have a tradition that allows couples to marry without registration. They just need a nod from the village’s patriarchs,” he added.
A survey by the association has also revealed that more than 60 per cent of people in cross-border marriages are illiterate, making written guidance for the procedures insufficient.
Hoan said that without the law’s protection, couples can be vulnerable if problems arise in their marriage and divorce and custody cases become difficult to settle.
Ho Thi Den from Huong Hoa District’s Thanh commune said that she married a Lao man following her village’s customs without registering with local authorities.
“After having three children, my husband told me that I was old and ugly and our life together was too hard. He then left me and married a Lao girl,” Den told Tin Tuc (News) newspaper.
Without protection from the law, Den could not claim everything she would be otherwise entitled to.
Around 1,052 Lao people were living in 17 communes bordering Laos in 2011.
The bar association has worked with the local judicial offices of these communes to raise people’s awareness of the importance of marriage registration, and since August last year more than 220 couples have followed this advice.
The association plans to propose that the Ministry of Justice simplify administrative procedures relating foreigners living in land border areas.
Gender gap closes, inequality remains
Viet Nam still faces obstacles in implementing the gender equality and domestic violence laws and ending domestic violence against females, officials stressed at a dialogue yesterday.
They in the meantime also noted that Viet Nam is one of the leading countries in Southeast Asia in the endeavour to close the gap between men and women.
Addressing participants, Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen reaffirmed the government’s commitment to gender equality and women’s empowerment through implementing gender equality policies and programmes.
Five years after implementing the Gender Equality Law, Viet Nam has made impressive progress towards eliminating the gender gap.
In 2012, Viet Nam ranked 44th in the world on this issue. The country’s Parliament is 24.4 per cent female; additionally, 40 per cent of the ministries and leading government agencies have women in the top positions, and a growing number of women are serving as leaders in provincial governments.
The 2012 Global Gender Gap Index – which examines the gap between men and women in economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment – ranks Viet Nam 66th, below only the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore in Southeast Asia.
However, gender inequality continues to persist in all areas and sectors, especially in rural, mountainous areas dominated by ethnic minorities who have limited access to jobs and education, Chuyen said.
UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam Pratibha Mehta said billions of dollars are spent on extra health costs and lost productivity as a result of gender-based violence.
In Viet Nam, a UN study estimating the cost of domestic violence concluded that it resulted in an overall productivity loss of 1.78 percent of GDP in 2010.
“We need laws and policies that promote a supportive environment for the realisation of all of women’s rights,” Mehta said.
“We need increasing numbers of women in politics and law enforcement. We need communities and individuals to be a part of the change in mindsets, attitudes and beliefs.”
She also cited the need to improve mechanisms for data collection on the causes and consequences of different forms of violence against women and girls, such as the use of disaggregated data by sex and age.
Viet Nam will also attend the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, to be held at the UN headquarters in New York from March 4-15.
The policy dialogue was co-organised by the United Nations in Viet Nam and the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs in celebration of International Women’s Day (March 8).
UNDP assists Viet Nam in poverty reduction efforts
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), together with the Republic of Ireland, have engaged in a project to help Viet Nam enact sustainable poverty reduction during the 2012-16 period.
The project will support the implementation of the Vietnamese Government’s Resolution 80/NQ-CP on the direction of sustainable poverty reduction (2011-20) and the National Target Programme on Sustainable Poverty Reduction (2011-15).
It targets eight pilot provinces comprising of Ha Giang, Dien Bien, Cao Bang and Bac Kan in the north, Thanh Hoa and Quang Ngai in the central region, Kon Tum in the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh.
Through encouraging involvement of the poor and intensifying implementation of programmes and policies on poverty reduction, the project is expected to contribute to the endeavour in the poorest regions, as well as remote areas where large ethnic communities live.
Last year, over 50 per cent of ethnic minorities in Viet Nam were estimated to live below the poverty line, of which 31 percent face food shortages.
Poverty reduction rates in the fields of education, healthcare, clean water, hygiene and housing in ethnic minority areas have lagged behind the country’s average.
Issued in 2011, the Government resolution aims to reduce the rate of poor households by 4 per cent per annum, with a focus on the most disadvantaged regions nationwide.
Jobless figure nears one million in January
There were 984,000 people unemployed in January, accounting for 2 per cent of the country’s workforce, according to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
Another 1.369 million workers are experiencing underemployment, the ministry said.
HCM City had the highest unemployment rate of 3.92 per cent, followed by Ha Noi at 2.15 per cent.
Two bodies found after fishing boat blast
Rescuers in northern Viet Nam have found the bodies of a father and son who went missing after an explosion rocked their fishing boat on Tuesday night.
The body of boat owner Pham Van Ho and his 29-year-old son Pham Van Hoai were recovered on Wednesday afternoon.
Rescuers also found the remains of other victims, but have as yet been unable to identify them.
Border forces in the central provinces of Thanh Hoa and Nghe An are continuing the search for missing persons including Ho’s two sons and his nephew.
RoK funds $52 million hospital in Yen Bai
Construction began yesterday on a general hospital worth US$52 million in Phuc Loc Commune in the northern mountainous province of Yen Bai.
The hospital, covering 36,000sq.m, is designed to provide medical services including internal treatment, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics, and orthopedics upon its completion in June 2015.
The Export-Import Bank of Korea will finance $45 million through the Economic Development Co-operation Fund using ODA from South Korea.
Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Pham Duy Cuong said that the quality of local medical and healthcare services were expected to be enhanced substantially by the hospital.
House collapse kills one and injures four in Ha Giang
An earthen house belonging to people in the Mong ethnic group collapsed yesterday in northern mountainous Ha Giang Province’s Yen Minh District, leaving one person dead and four others injured.
Construction was almost finished when one wall buckled, burying five workers, said Colonel Hoang Huu Ninh, the district’s police chief.
One victim died on the way to the hospital, while the most seriously injured victim was taken to the provincial hospital and the others are being treated at the Yen Minh hospital.-
Co-ordination key to City master plan
The wider HCM City metropolitan region needs a co-ordinating agency to ensure the quality of economic development, said Deputy Minister of Construction Phan Thi My Linh.
The master plan for the region, which consists of HCM City and seven neighbouring provinces across an area of 30,400 square kilometers, was approved by the Prime Minister in 2008.
Covering the seven southern provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Long An and Tien Giang, the plan aims for the region to be one of the main engines for sustainable economic development in the country, as well as an economic center of Southeast Asia and Asia by 2050.
Speaking at a recent meeting to discuss the master plan’s implementation, the deputy minister said that localities in the region still didn’t co-operate effectively on implementing the plan.
For example, major infrastructure in the region has yet to receive synchronous investment, with insufficient investment in rural areas resulting in imbalanced sustainable development between rural and urban areas.
“Each province had their own development plan, leading to most economic zones in the region calling for investment in the same industries without adequately mobilising each area’s advantages,” an official said.
The chairman of the Dong Nai Province People’s Committee, Dinh Quoc Thai, stressed“This can reduce the competitiveness of the economic zones and the whole region.”
“We need clear orientation and co-ordination to develop the region,” he further said.
Deputy director of the province’s Construction Department Ly Thanh Phuong said poor co-operation could be seen in major transport projects in the region, which suffered from a lack of information and inconsistent designs.
“This in turn led to problems related to securing investment and gaining investors’ trust,” he noted.
Vice chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Le Manh Ha said that although a regional master plan was approved, the city and other provinces already have their own development plans.
He pointed out that HCM City attracted a large amount of migrants from neighbouring provinces who come to the city to work or for health services, so the city had to prepare to meet the demands of both its residents and migrants.
Vice chairman of Lam Dong Province People’s Committee Nguyen Van Yen said a monitoring agency could help to identify and allocate resources to implement the master plan.
According to the Construction Ministry, HCM City Region now has a population of 18 million, accounting for 20 per cent of the country’s total. It is the most developed economic zone in Viet Nam with a GDP accounting for 60 per cent of the national figure.
The city, as the main driver of the region, is expected to have a population of 20-22 million people by 2020 including 16-17 million living in urban areas.
With the current urbanisation rate of over 53 per cent, the region faces overloading of its infrastructure and other social and environmental issues.
Major projects in the region currently being implemented include the HCM City-Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway, Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province and the Bien Hoa –Vung Tau Expressway.
Ha Noi builds smart transport management system
The Ha Noi Transport Department is piloting a smart transport management system in Thang Long Highway.
All traffic activities in the Highway will be recorded by camera and computer networks. Images of wrongdoings will be captured for penalties later.
The pilot system is expected to be applied in all expressways in Ha Noi, said the Department’s Vice Director Nguyen Xuan Tan.
To better transport conditions, the city is building 34 bridges over rivers and 15 overpasses while trying to complete the construction of some key belt roads and highways.
Hanoi tourism to promote potentials abroad
The Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has planned to promote the capital city as a tourist destination in the foreign media.
The promotion programme will be featured on several television channels in Russia and the Asia Travel Mart Online Magazine.
Marketing will also be carried out in potential foreign markets such as Canada , China and the Republic of Korea .
Last year was the first time Hanoi ’s annual foreign tourist arrivals exceeded 2 million, and the city expects to welcome 2.25 million foreign visitors this year.
In 2012, Hanoi was rated the best destination in Vietnam for city life by Lonely Planet Traveller, the world’s leading tourist magazine.
Together with Hoi An, the city made the 2012 top 10 attractive destinations in Asia, as chosen by Smart Travel Asia, a Hong Kong online tourist magazine.
It came second in a list of 100 international cities with good hotel services, which was compiled by the well-known tourism website Trivago.
Mekong cities work together to lure regional guests
HCM City will work together with Phnom Penh, Vientiane, Yangon to promote tourism in Japan and the Republic of Korea.
According to the HCM City Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the coordination will be discussed at a meeting of the four cities in the Mekong sub-region, scheduled for HCM City on March 20-22.
Last September, the cities’ mayors signed a statement on tourism development cooperation at the International Travel Expo in HCM City.
City officials will discuss the programme as well as other projects about student exchange and linkages of enterprises, banks and other suppliers to create opportunities for tourism development.
The first joint tourism-promotion programme will take place in Japan in May this year and in the Republic of Korea next year.
Vietnam proves popular to Russian holidaymakers
The number of tourists from Russia to Vietnam were higher than any other country during January and February, according to the General Statistics Office (GSO).
More than 54,000 Russians visited during the first two months of the year, accounting for one-fourth of the total number of Russian tourists last year.
Vietnam received a total of 1.21 million foreign visitors in the year’s first two months, about 90.4 percent of the number during the same period last year.
According to the Russian Consulate General in HCM City, the most favoured destinations in Vietnam for Russian visitors are Khanh Hoa, Binh Thuan, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Kien Giang provinces, which attracted a total of 200,000 tourists last year.
Vietnam ups cooperation in water resource management
A seminar under the second phase of an underground water project took place in Hanoi on February 26 to seek measures for better water resource management that can lead to sustainable development.
The event, co-hosted by the Centre for Planning and Inspection for Water Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, and the Coordinating Committee for GeoScience Programmes in East and Southeast Asia (CCOP), saw the participation of 11 nations including Japan , China , the Republic of Korea , Thailand , Cambodia , Indonesia , Malaysia , the Philippines , Papua New Guinea , Timor-Leste and Vietnam .
The underground water project is part of CCOP’s activities, which aims to increase member nations’ capacity in water resource management as well as information sharing and cooperation in this field.
The second phase of the project, which began in February, 2010 and is due to complete in March, 2013, aims to supplement current hydro-geological maps with more information regarding temperature and water quality.
Many reports presented at the seminar provided useful experience for Vietnam in dealing with several critical issues, such as land subsidence and saltwater intrusion. Countries’ experiences and the current situation of water resource management, as well as measures to deal with the problem were also discussed.
Phase one of the project, with the participation of nine countries, focused on making a general evaluation of underground water resources. It was completed in March, 2009.-
Forest fires in Ca Mau, HCM City
Several forest fires have been reported in the southernmost Ca Mau province and Ho Chi Minh City on February 26, which wreaked havoc for a large area of forests in the two localities.
An estimated 50 hectares of cajuput forest in Ca Mau province’s U Minh district was burned down after a four-hour fire.
Ca Mau Forest Management Department in coordination with the local authority mobilised over 300 locals and five high power water pumps to bring the blaze under control at 5 pm. The cause of the fire is under investigation.
According to the Director of the department Le Van Hai, the forest area was once destroyed by a fire in 2008.
About 20,000ha of cajuput forest in the locality is at a high risk of fire, due to prolonged hot and dry weather.
At 9 am the same day, a huge blaze occurred in the 30-hectare protective forest in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City.
The forest management board along with the firefighters mobilised four fire trucks to put out the fire after seven hours of battling.
The blaze did not cause human losses, but swathes of cajuput forest were devastated.
The fire might have been caused by some local residents who burned rubbish in the forest.
Australian foundation helps improve eye care
Australia ’s Fred Hollows Foundation (FHF) has provided an additional 117,000 USD for Hue eye hospital in central Thua Thien-Hue province to improve community eye care service.
Director of Hue eye hospital Pham Minh Tuong said on February 27 that FHF has funded Thua Thien-Hue province’s community eye care since 2006 with a sum now totaling over 1 million USD.
In 2013-2015, the foundation will help the hospital with the training of eye doctors and nurses and upgrade of equipment in service of eye check-up and treatment in the districts of Nam Dong, Phong Dien and Phu Loc.
During the 2010-2012 period, FHF supported the building of Hue eye hospital in Hue city through the Australian Government’s Initiative to prevent and treat avoidable blindness.
The five-storey hospital has 70-100 beds for inpatients and can serve between 100-200 outpatients a day.
FHF also implemented the 547,000 USD project to improve eye care capacity in Phu Vang, Phong Dien and A Luoi districts, helping examine 35,000 children with refraction and treat 1,500 people with cataract.-
Northern Vietnam to be cold in beginning of March
According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, a cold front will come over Hanoi and northern provinces, also affecting central provinces, in the beginning of March.
Over the past days, it has been a bit cold at night and in the early morning. The temperature fluctuates from 23 to 27 degrees Celsius.
At present, continental high pressure affecting the weather in northern provinces continues to decline and move out to the East sea. Therefore, from tomorrow (March 1), temperatures in northern Vietnam will continue to increase, and it will be hot in the northwestern region. But from March 2, northern and central Vietnam will become cold.
The temperature in southern Vietnam will gradually decrease. It will be cool in the beginning of March due to soft effect of cold atmosphere from the northern region.
Farmers contribute VND5.5 billion to build power grid for irrigation
In 2012, hundreds of farming households in Nam Yang commune, Dak Doa district, Gia Lai province agreed to contribute VND5.5 billion to build a grid to irrigate more than 400 hectares of coffee and pepper in the Nui Chua area.
The sum of money averages to each household contributing VND17 million for each hectare of coffee or pepper. Households with more areas of coffee and pepper will thus have to contribute more. For households in poverty and those facing difficulty, the sum of money will be lower, even reduced 50% compared with stipulated level, or the time for contribution will be longer.
While many farmers in the commune can’t contribute their share, there were five households who are quite prosperous paid in advance to quickly build the grid and take back the capital after.
The grid, consisting of many kilometers of 22KV lines surrounding the Nui Chua area and five 400KVA transformer stations, had been built and completed in a short time to serve production, meeting the expectations of local people.
Currently, farmers in the commune have contributed about VND2.5 billion for the project, and the remainder will be paid in the future.
Coffee and pepper-growing areas in Nui Chua are located away from the residential areas in the commune, so there is no power supply. Earlier, in dry season, farmers had to water crops with engine-driven pump, which is both expensive and time consuming. Henceforth, when the grid is in operation, dry season irrigation costs will be much reduced, for higher profits.
According to an estimation with current prices of fuel, each hour of engine-driven irrigation requires 2.5 liters of fuel, equivalent to VND50,000; but it now only requires 10Kw per hour, equivalent to VND20,000.