Water is a very important natural resource and an essential component of life and the environment, which decides the existence and development of a country. Water is also a necessary condition to exploit and use other natural resources, and an irreplaceable means of production in all economic sectors. Vietnam is considered a nation rich in water resources, but these resources are seriously polluted. Water pollution can be attributed to numerous objective and subjective reasons such as rapid population growth; a negative side of the industrialisation and modernisation process; poor infrastructure; and low public awareness on environmental protection. Many Party committees, authorities, relevant management agencies, organisations and individuals do not pay due attention to the protection of the water environment and are not fully aware that water pollution can cause a direct threat to people’s life and the country’s sustainable development. Regulations on water management and protection are lacking. Relevant agencies, branches and local authorities do not effectively coordinate with each other. Their responsibilities are overlapping. A strategy and plan to exploit, use and protect water resources by basin and major territory is lacking. The budget allocated for protecting water resources is very low, only less than 0.1 percent of GDP. Community education programmes on water protection are not available. Water managing staffers are not sufficient and their capacity remains poor. Currently in Vietnam, the proportion between environmental manager and people is three to one million, while in some ASEAN countries it is 70 to one million. Resolutions of the 10th National Party Congress set the target that by 2010, 95 percent of the urban population and 75 percent of the rural one will have access to safe water. All newly established production establishments must apply clean technologies or install pollution mitigation and waste treatment equipment; over half of production and business establishments will reach environmental standards; all cities from the 3rd and higher categories, half of the cities of the 4th category and all industrial and export processing zones will have wastewater treatment facilities; 90 percent of normal solid waste, 80 percent of hazardous waste and 100 percent of hospital waste will be collected and treated to meet environmental standards. In order to realise these objectives, the effective protection and use of water resources is a vital issue. Strong efforts must be taken to prevent destructive actions which cause pollution to the environment, and to improve the environment in river basins, urban and industrial areas, handicraft villages and other densely populated and economic areas; broaden international cooperation on environmental protection and natural resource management, and attach special importance to the management, exploitation and use of water resources.
Water is a basic need of life. Exploitation, use, and prevention of water resource pollution are a very important task in the national industrialisation and modernisation process. To sustain and speed up this process, the concern and guidance of Party committees at all levels and the authorities, and the effective participation of social organisations and the entire people is indispensable.