Water Journal : Water Journal August 2015
water AUGUST 2015 12 Postcard POSTCARD FROM VIETNAM – From Grace Tjandraatmadja, Engineers Without Borders In our April 2015 edition we published the first ‘Postcard From Vietnam’ from Grace, who is stationed there as a volunteer working on a project to develop housing support services incorporating access to water, sanitation and climate-resilient shelter. Here is the next instalment to Grace’s tale. The rains are finally here! After unrelenting heat (36– 38°C every day) over the months of April and May, the monsoon has finally arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. The skies started off a light shade of grey and then darkened until, finally, thick heavy rain poured down with the occasional rolls of thunder roaring in the distance. The rain signals the arrival of the wet season and brings much-needed relief from the heat. It cools the warm air, washes away air pollution and makes everything feel fresher. Large drops hit the tin roof panels and window-panes of the houses, while rivulets form down walls and across footpaths towards the street. Street vendors pull their carts back under the eaves of shops. Traffic slows down. Pedestrians and motorbike drivers seek cover under neat shop awnings. Everyone waits for the rain intensity to decrease. The bravest pull out raincoats (plastic ponchos designed to ride motorbikes – they are opaque but have a clear plastic square for the motorbike headlight). Soon a few motorbike riders venture back onto the streets. Taxis and cars continue travelling unaffected. Water sprays as vehicles drive by. Streams form along the edges of streets. Gutters become swollen as water tries to drain down, and some streets turn into temporary streams. Slowly, as the rain intensity decreases, the sounds of traffic return once more: the honking of cars and motorbikes resumes; the roar of buses rises and mixes with other urban sounds; a radio plays at a distance; chatter resumes among street vendors and raindrops continue to splatter. The wet season brings regular rainfall to south Vietnam – intense downpours occur almost daily for a few hours, bringing down temperatures to the mid-to-high 20s and providing temporary relief from the heat. It also signals an increase in the number of mosquitoes, as there are more opportunities for stagnant water collection. For Ho Chi Minh City, which is located over low-lying lands interwoven with canals and marshes, the season also challenges the stormwater drainage system. While there is a system for household rubbish collection, a common practice is for people to throw trash on the street. Street vendors, shop owners and pedestrians often dispose of packaging, leftover drinks and food by throwing them onto the side of the road or into drains. Housing renovation and construction in urban areas often spills onto the streets and debris is washed into the drainage system and into the various canals that feed into the Dong Nai River. An army of street sweepers valiantly sweeps the streets in the mornings and the evenings to collect the rubbish. However, in many areas drains often get clogged and many hold stagnant murky water. Cyclists get back onto the roads as the rain eases. View from the canal along Truong Sa Street. Investment in stormwater-receiving infrastruture has improved aesthetics and drainage along some of the more prominent canals.
Water Journal June 2015
Water Journal September 2015