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Old August 1st, 2009, 04:11 PM
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Default Central Region Urban Environmental Improvement Project (CRUEIP)

Over the past decade, rapid urbanization compounded by small investment in maintenance, repairs, and new capital works has led to insufficient urban infrastructure and services in Viet Nam. Weak institutions, low-skilled human resources, financial constraints, lack of community participation, and an inadequate legal framework have contributed to the limited coverage and inefficiency of urban services. Insufficient drainage, sanitation, and solid waste systems deteriorate health profiles of local populations, constrain investment and economic growth in towns and the rural areas around them, accentuate poverty and vulnerability of the local population, and have a negative impact on the quality of their living environment. Furthermore, lack of opportunities in the towns of the Central Region fuels migration to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City increasing urban problems and promoting unbalanced regional development.

The Central Region Urban Environmental Improvement Project (CRUEIP) will target its resources particularly to poor and low-income households to generate new employment opportunities, to develop community ownership and self-reliance, to accelerate reform of public administration, to reduce risk of disease through health awareness programs, and to ensure a sustainable environment.

CRUEIP is classified as a poverty intervention loan with human development as a thematic priority.

Objectives and Scope:
The long-term goals of CRUEIP are (i) to improve the quality of life and health status of urban residents and to reduce poverty in six project towns and surrounding areas (Dong Ha, Ha Tinh, Lang Co, Quang Ngai, Tam Ky and Thanh Hoa); and (ii) to promote balanced regional economic development and reduce migration from the Central Region to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. The objective is to improve urban environmental conditions in the project towns through the following five components:

1. Awareness and Pro-Poor Sanitation: Initiatives will focus on (i) community awareness and participation programs; (ii) community based sanitation; and (iii) household sanitation credit scheme

2. Drainage and Flood Protection: Drainage improvement in towns will include rehabilitation and cleaning of existing drains and construction of new ones to channel storm water and wastewater to downstream outfalls. Flood protection improvement will involve construction of roads/dykes to protect riverside communities from frequent flooding

3. Wastewater and Public Sanitation: The wastewater improvement activities are designed to collect, treat, and safely dispose of wastewater from the urban areas. The public sanitation activities aim to improve facilities in markets, primary and secondary schools, bus stations, cultural centers, parks, and health clinics as well as reducing pollution in the streets, canals, waterways, and lakes

4. Solid Waste Management: Initiatives will include improving the collection, storage, and transport of municipal, industrial and medical solid waste in project towns

5. Implementation Assistance and Institutional Strengthening: Assistance will be provided in project implementation and institutional strengthening for town people's committees, URENCOs, the Department of Urban Infrastructure at the Ministry of Construction, and Women's Unions (WU) in project towns.

Framework for GAD Activities:
The socioeconomic survey conducted during project preparation showed that women are involved in a variety of tasks related to sanitation and waste collection at both the community and household levels. At home, women are primarily responsible for collecting and storing water, for cleaning the house, for disposing of garbage, for cleaning drains, for washing and disposing of wastewater, and for educating children in hygienic behavior. Women also make up more than 50% of the labor force in urban environmental companies (URENCO) working under clearly defined gender-differentiated roles. While men are involved in driving garbage trucks, dredging drains, and working in landfills, women are involved in unskilled, low-wage jobs such as road sweeping, collecting leaves, and trimming trees. Most of the scavengers who collect scraps from landfills for supplementing household income are women too. Though more than half of the URENCO staff is female, women are inadequately represented at the management level, except for heading up sanitation teams. Similarly, despite the large membership base of Viet Nam's WU throughout the country, there are hardly any women in decision-making committees in project towns. With little representation to voice their concerns, women continue to work under unsafe and unhealthy conditions in direct contact with toxic waste using heavy tools that are not fit for females.

The gender action plan for CRUEIP has been developed focusing initiatives in three main areas:

- training of stakeholders in gender-sensitive infrastructure design
- participation and capacity building of town WUs
- special attention to women in community-based sanitation development

Gender Inclusive Design:
Gender issues were adequately addressed in CRUEIP design based on the gender-inclusive socioeconomic survey conducted during project design. With the assistance of the VRM social development and gender officer, the gender action plan was developed in consultation with local authorities and URENCO. The gender action plan consists of the following specific interventions:

1. Awareness and Pro-Poor Sanitation:
a. Community Awareness and Participation: Community awareness and education programs will be carried out within a gender-sensitive environment. Training and focus group discussions on gender roles and environmental sanitation will be planned at the ward level. Training materials will reflect the distinct needs of men and women. Information regarding project components and tariffs will be disseminated to both men and women. Education on occupational health hazards for URENCO workers will include both technical and non-technical staff including landfill scavengers who are predominantly women. Community motivators will be 50% female. All community consultations will include men and women to provide input on implementation of subcomponents. As a member of the community management committee (CMC), WU will be responsible for daily implementation and will have key coordinating, financial, and management responsibilities

b. Community Based Sanitation: WU with other members of the CMC will evaluate proposals submitted by communities for community-based sanitation improvements. Proposals will be reviewed with attention to gender-sensitive infrastructure designs. About 30% of the community/neighborhood group members are women. Through participatory consultation, communities will decide how to manage operation and maintenance (O&M) activities, including small tariffs for repairs or salaries for people responsible for maintenance. Preference will be given to women for employment generated under the subcomponent

c. Household Sanitation Credit: Credit schemes will be designed in a way to attract women from poor and low-income households. Marital status, age, collateral and dual signature requirements will be waived to ensure that 75% of the beneficiaries of the credit schemes are women. Women will be trained in environmental sanitation when obtaining a loan. Training will be provided to WUs in community development and credit management.

2. Drainage and Flood Protection: Information regarding the construction, utilization, and maintenance of drainage systems at the household and public levels will be carried out through awareness and participation campaigns for both men and women.

3. Wastewater and Public Sanitation: Different needs of men and women will be addressed in the design and O&M of wastewater and public sanitation through group discussions.

4. Solid Waste Management: Education campaigns will be launched at schools, restaurants, market places, and ward/commune gatherings to improve men's and women's awareness and practice of solid waste disposal, use of collection services, and payment of monthly sanitation fees. The women's Unit within the Trade Union of URENCO will (i) encourage female staff and sweepers to provide their input on sanitation equipment design; (ii) ensure that labor codes and safety rules are applied at work; and (iii) construct gender-sensitive facilities at URENCO offices including separate toilets and changing rooms. CMC will coordinate with the town health office to organize meetings on the health hazards of solid waste with men and women in local communities. In coordination with URENCO, CMC will also organize awareness seminars on occupational health risks. Protective clothing will be provided to URENCO workers including scavengers at landfill sites.

5. Project Implementation Assistance and Capacity Building: A local gender consultant will be recruited for 18 months to assist the Government and its executing agency (Provincial People's Committees in each province) in implementing the gender action plan. An international gender advisor will be required for 6 months for training ministry representatives, implementing agencies and other Government officials. Gender training will be provided for project management unit (PMU) staff, CMC team and WUs at different levels in project management, O&M, community participation, health awareness, and credit schemes. With the assistance of the WU and the gender consultant, each PMU will be responsible for developing a gender implementation plan and for monitoring gender-sensitive indicators. As a member of the project monitoring and evaluation team, WU will ensure consistent monitoring of benchmarks set in the gender implementation plan
The gender consultant will also ensure that the project resettlement plan is gender sensitive. Development of resettlement plans will include consultations with community members and will ensure that social infrastructure in resettlement areas will reflect needs articulated by both men and women. Female-headed households will be eligible for comparable levels of compensation for lost assets. URENCO, with support of the gender consultant, will conduct training in leadership and management skills for female staff. Women will be promoted to managerial positions when opportunities arise.

In the project management structure, WUs at town and local levels are the members of the project steering committee and the commune management committees. The project targets participation of women to be at least 25% in the former and 50% in the latter so that women's interests are represented in decision-making bodies

6. Assurances: The gender action plan is covenanted

Guidance on GAD Activities:
As a member of the project preparation mission, the VRM social development and gender officer addressed gender issues in the design of the project and developed the gender action plan. She will continue to provide support to the project's gender consultants on the implementation and monitoring of the plan.
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Old August 1st, 2009, 04:15 PM
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Thanh Hoa City – a case in point

The Provincial Town of Thanh Hoa City (THC), capital of Thanh Hoa Province, was selected as an initial case study under the CRUEIP, which is being supplemented by an additional integrated urban development project which at this writing remains under preparation. The THC case-study project is to directly benefit about 75,000 people living in urban and peri-urban areas through improved access roads and provision of basic urban infrastructure services; it will likewise indirectly benefit all 200,000 THC residents.

Why THC?
The criteria for selecting THC as a case study included rates of urban population growth, urban and rural poverty levels, economic development potential, and infrastructure requirements. THC is both the capital and the only major urban center in Thanh Hoa Province, which is the country’s third largest, second poorest, and second most populated province. With a population of 200,000, THC accounts for only about 5% of the province’s total population of 3.7 million. Currently, the province’s gross domestic product is only about half the national average. The city’s economy is quite weak in all sectors, as evidenced by its industrial and social indexes that register levels well below corresponding national averages.

Meeting THC’s ever-growing demand for urban services is one of the most important factors in reversing out-migration from both the city and the province which, for the most part, is likely to end up in Ha Noi or Ho Chi Minh City.

The THC case-study project was restructured in 2007 following a rise in Viet Nam’s inflation and construction price indexes, which seriously impacted tendering of the initial construction contracts. Following restructuring, the total cost of the project amounted to $96.0 million, the financing plan for which included the following: a concessional Asian Development Bank loan of $44.0 million equivalent to cover 46% of the project’s total cost; cofinancing from Agence Française de Développement (AFD, the French development aid agency) comprising two loans: a conventional loan of $26.5 million equivalent for physical investments, and a concessional loan of $5.3 million equivalent for capacity building; and counterpart funding from the provincial government sufficient to cover 21% of the project’s total cost.

Infrastructure improvement through community participation

Works under the project comprise construction and rehabilitation of urban infrastructure, including urban roads, water supply, drainage, and wastewater treatment facilities; upgrading of transport links between the city center and peri-urban areas for unlocking the latter’s economic development potential; capacity building in urban infrastructure management and provision of urban infrastructure services; and measures for reducing outmigration from Thanh Hoa Province that include upgrading of labor force skills through education and training. A special feature of the project is its emphasis on community participation in project design, with particularly intensive inputs by women and the urban poor.
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