- Tan Hoa Lo Gom - Building a new life    click here to open paper content349 kb
by    le Dieu, Anh & Legrand, Benoit & Van Lint, Jan | a.ledieu@gmail.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
Fast growing Hochiminh City is confronted with pollution and poverty. The Tan Hoa - Lo Gom project applies a comprehensive and innovative approach with community participation, piloting solutions in housing, sanitation, and socio-economic support.
Building a new life
An indescribable chaos characterises the highly polluted atmosphere of Ho Chi Minh City, the economic urban pole of Vietnam. Located at the door of the Mekong Delta, the Southern metropolis has an estimated population of over 7 million inhabitants, among which 1 to 2 million illegal, living mainly in slum houses along polluted canals.

In the mid-nineties Ho Chi Minh City requested help to tackle pollution and poverty along its canals. An ODA Partnership was set up to coordinate among donors and city. The Government of Belgium provided grants and pilot projects and could kind of ‘experiment’ for the bigger loan projects. It concentrated its efforts along the heavily polluted Tan Hoa Lo Gom canal with 700,000 inhabitants.
The approach should be comprehensive and innovative with participation of the community.

Easier said then done. Social workers were to be recruited but proved difficult to find. Vietnamese norms and standards were challenged. Saving and credit groups and a daring housing revolving fund were set up for the poor.

Three housing solutions were proposed: upgrading of low-income areas, resettlement in low-cost apartments or in a sites and services area 8km away. It was controversial because we proposed to make illegal immigrants become registered house owners.

Another pilot project was the sub-urban 35 ha aerated lagoon wastewater treatment plant. The technology was new and challenging for Vietnam. And so was the non-compacting solid waste small transfer station.

Countless rounds of discussions took place because the relevant departments were not willing or able to abandon their official regulations and standards. It finally led to carefully considered solutions. This spiritual ownership by local experts and authorities finally led to sustainability and replications.

Lessons learned
Although aiming at sustainability these projects were not part of a bigger urban planning concept or vision. They were to be pilots with lessons to be drawn for the future.
Considering the rigorous urban planning mechanism at the time, the final lessons learned were rather encouraging. The project acted like a wild-fire and at least some pilots had an influence on a city or national level.
Tan Hoa, Lo Gom, urban upgrading, canal sanitation, housing, community participation
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