by Trang Le Thi 

The Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected Hoi An City where GreenViet has been implementing the “Building and Sharing Zero Waste Models in Selected Asian Communities” project under USAID’s Municipal Waste Recycling Program (MWRP). IEC  (Information, Education and Communication) activities have been postponed until the end of 2020. In addition to the pandemic, flooding and heavy rains have hit Hoi An and other parts of Central Vietnam, forcing project implementers to rethink activities and continue preparations virtually.

IEC and consultation activities resumed in December 2020, receiving strong support from all stakeholders. These activities have reached nearly 1,000 people in the nine villages of the two communes of Hoi An City.

Among these activities are: 

Community Outreach on Waste Sorting, Reducing Plastic Use and Composting.. This program was organized for 436 people representing 420 households in the Cam Thanh commune, and 433 people representing those from the Youth Union, Women Union, and Farmer Union in the 3 villages of Cham Island. Aside from raising awareness on the importance of waste classification at source, community members were also  introduced to the different ways to treat their kitchen waste by way of composting to reduce the amount of solid waste generated from each household. 

Communication programs in Hoi An City. Photo courtesy of GreenViet.

Developing Commune-Level Green Codes. Representatives from 60 households in each commune were invited to consultation meetings to propose Green Codes which would be used in their area. The Green Codes were agreed on by the community and printed out to display in public places for all community members and visitors to follow. An example of the Green Codes in Cham Island which is displayed in Hai Tuong Pagoda area, includes recommendations on (1) Using non-disposable containers for storing food, (2) Using personal water bottles to avoid using SUP products, (3) Using your own bags when shopping, (4) Avoiding or not using of nylon bags, (5) Saying NO to SUP products, and (6) Not using plastic water bottles in community meetings.

Green Codes displayed in Cham Island. Photo courtesy of GreenViet.

Door-to-door Education Programs. These activities have been implemented every week by a small group of project field officers and volunteers to comply with the government’s regulations on social distancing. Sixty households in 2 communes have been selected as pilot sites to be monitored for the activity. After 3 months, most of the members have become well versed on waste classification and composting. Furthermore, two Materials Recovery Facilities (MRF) have been set up in the Cam Thanh commune and Cham Islands to further encourage waste sorting among households.

Organic waste is separated from household waste at source for composting. Photo courtesy of GreenViet.

With strong participation from the communities, the Hoi An Government, represented by the People’s Committees, in collaboration with the Quang Nam’s Tourism Association, has set a goal for Hoi An City to become a Green Destination by 2025.  It has been agreed upon by 40 businesses during the planning workshop last December 12th 2020 to focus on Zero Waste solutions to contribute to the goal. 

During the International Zero Waste Cities Conference 2021 (IZWCC 2021), Nguyen Minh Ly, Vice Chairman of Hoi An’s People’s Committee,  shared this statement in support of a Zero Waste Hoi An: “One of Hoi An’s priorities in the next period is to build a green, clean city with a special attention on reducing waste. This is an important direction that we are committed to.” He also confirmed that, “We wish to have support and collaboration to help Hoi An city in achieving the goals to [become] a Zero Waste city. We wish to learn from and share experience with other Zero Waste cities to contribute to a Zero Waste planet.” This is considered a very good sign that the project’s efforts in “Building and Sharing Zero Waste Models” in Hoi An city has been successful and has persuaded its government and communities to be the 1st Zero Waste city in Vietnam. 

Representatives of Hoi An government shared their messages in the virtual dialogue in IZWCC 2021. Photo courtesy of GreenViet.

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GAIA is grateful for the contributions from GreenViet. This feature is made possible through the Zero Waste Cities project — an initiative coordinated by GAIA Asia Pacific and funded by the Plastic Solutions Fund (PSF) and USAID. The views expressed in this feature do not necessarily reflect that of its funders.