An opportunity not to be wasted

Innovative wastewater management project helps Viet Nam to make the most of natural resources

An estimated five billion people will be living in cities by 2030. With the country’s urban population having increased from 18 million to 25 million over the last decade, Viet Nam is seeing fast-paced urbanization, and this trend is expected to continue, exerting pressure on physical urban infrastructure in major Vietnamese cities, including water, sanitation and energy facilities.

Poor access to sanitation services and a lack of proper maintenance throughout urban centres contributes not only to contamination of coastlines and rivers, as water from septic tanks trickles down to the ground water, but also reduces the benefits which can be realised from using waste products for energy production or organic fertilizer.

Against this backdrop, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ),), is promoting the implementation of an integrated waste water vacuum sewer collection system in the city of Da Nang, Viet Nam’s third largest city. The system provides a series of benefits, including the repurposing of wastes, which can be combined with organic waste from households, restaurants and hotels for energy production, organic fertilizer and recycled water generation. The recycled water can be used for irrigation purposes and urban agriculture.

The vacuum sewer system is economical and an alternative to the costly gravity sewer by connecting the toilets of individual households, hotels and restaurants directly to sewer lines. Once implemented, the system would resolve some of the lingering problems related to waste water collection and treatment services in Da Nang and integrate recycled water generation, energy and fertilizer production, along with wastewater treatment systems. At the same time, it will reduce the high costs associated with conventional separate sewerage systems, contamination of the high ground water table, and challenges in accessibility to empty septic tanks.

This sustainable wastewater management project is one of the strategies that authorities of Da Nang are pursuing to develop the city into a “green city” by 2025. A feasibility study on a vacuum sewer collection system has been conducted by the partners between April and August 2014 and the pilot project in An Hai Bac Ward in the Eastern Coastal Area of Da Nang is now ready to be implemented.

ESCAP supports innovative wastewater management projects across the Asia and Pacific region by fostering political support at national and regional levels, capacity building and training programmes. Learn more about ESCAP’s water resource management work here.