In the Mekong Delta in the south of Vietnam about 5.7 million people lack access to safe drinking water and 10 million people in rural areas live without adequate sanitation. Between May and August, 2007 a survey was carried out in An Bin, a peri-urban ward in the Mekong Delta, to gain insight into water, sanitation and health as well as to health-related hygiene behaviour. The study employed a combination of quantitative (standardized questionnaire) and qualitative (focus group discussions, semi-structured interviews) methods. The most important features in the choice of drinking water sources are matters of hygiene and the taste of the water. The majority (74%) of the 120 households surveyed indicated their ownership of a sanitation facility, but the fish pond toilet (64%) which is predominantly utilized is considered to be unimproved sanitation. The local peri-urban population link water and hygiene to health, but sanitation instead to environmental pollution. This and other outcomes lead to the assumption that people have a basic knowledge of proper hygiene behaviour. However, hygiene measures such as hand washing are put into practice in an untimely manner, most likely due to a misconception of risks and/or a lack of background knowledge of cause–effect relationships as well as ingrained habits.

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