Women Led Output Based Aid (WOBA) in Vietnam. 

Water for Women partners with Thrive Networks / East Meets West to deliver Women-Led Output Based Aid (WOBA) to some of the poorest and most vulnerable in 5 provinces of Vietnam, reaching an estimated 323,000* people.


Thrive Networks has been operating in Vietnam for 30 years. Throughout this time, the organisation and the sector at large have made significant contributions to WASH progress in the country. Access to clean water and sanitation has improved dramatically in Vietnam over the past decade. As of 2015, 78% of the country had access to improved sanitation facilities, and over 90% had access to improved water sources. Between 1990 and 2015, Vietnam’s open defecation rate decreased from 39% to 3.85%.

Despite this progress, key barriers remain when it comes to WASH delivery in Vietnam. Major inequalities exist, and the quality of basic services remains a problem, especially in rural areas.

In addition to urban-rural disparities, significant inequalities exist between richer and poorer populations. 

Only 45% of the rural population has access to piped water supply that meets Ministry of Health water quality standards. 

While 95% of the richest urban quintile has a piped water connection on premises, only 35% of the poorest have access to this service.

In rural areas, only 3% of the poorest quintile has a household connection, while 43% of the richest quintile do. 

Female-headed households are disproportionately excluded given their relatively low household incomes.


While sanitation coverage has improved, progress in sanitation and hygiene lags behind water supply.  Only 72% of people in rural areas have access to basic sanitation, and many continue to use unhygienic and often dangerous facilities, which contaminate the environment and water resources.  While hundreds of thousands of septic tank latrines have been built in rural areas of Vietnam in the last decade (including around 150,000 by Thrive), there are no systems in place for the safe disposal of faecal sludge.

Within this context, disabled, elderly, and female-led (single parent) low-income households have unique and often unmet sanitation needs. 


Water for Women partners with Thrive Networks / East Meets West in delivering Women-Led Output Based Aid (WOBA) to reach rural, low-income and marginalised households with improved access to clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene education, with a focus on ensuring gender equality and social inclusion in all activities undertaken. 

  • WOBA Vietnam will institutionalise successful approaches for reaching rural, low-income and GESI households with improved access to clean water, safely managed sanitation, and hygiene. 
  • WOBA will support the government to embed a targeted smart-subsidy program with provincial governments steadily increasing their co-financing of the approach.
  • WOBA will create meaningful gender empowerment outcomes through systematically engaging women as change agents in the sector and decision-makers in the household. 
  • WOBA’s commercial sanitation model will strengthen market development and revenue generation to further develop rural WASH markets – both the variety of products available and quality and sustainability of WASH service provision.


Watch: Dignity

This project is supporting vulnerable households in Vietnam by replacing rudimentary, unsafe latrines, such as fish pond toilets, with modern, safe and hygienic facilities. This short film captures the impact that this can have on a family by following Mrs Yen and her Auntie and their experience.


At provincial level, the project seeks to strengthen the capacity of the provincial Women’s Unions and their partnership with the Preventive Medicine Centres and the provincial Centre for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation to deliver WASH services.  Thrive’s partnerships are deepened under WOBA, as the project not only requires their leadership and guidance of other departments and lower administrative levels, but also requires them to phase in financial resources for the project.

WOBA will target the following direct beneficiaries for sanitation improvement in 5 provinces (Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Ben Tre):

  • 2,000 non poor households
  • 15,000 government-identified poor and near poor households
  • 3,000 GESI and vulnerable households

Regional map of Vietnam

Other activities undertaken by WOBA throughout the project include a faecal sludge management pilot in Ben Tre province through a market intervention rather than a technology solution.  Thrive aims to build demand and raise awareness about the importance of safe pit emptying in the service area, develop a market coordination mechanism and enforce both private and public desludging truck enterprises to dispose sludge to the treatment plant, and strengthen the regulatory environment and local government capacity for city-wide management.

In water, WOBA will establish a competitive subsidy fund for water enterprises.  Funding will be disbursed on an output (household connections) basis for poor/GESI household connections. It will be co-financed by the selected water enterprises which can be private or the provincial Centre for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation. Thanks to this competitive OBA subsidy fund, WOBA aims to increase access to clean water for 8,000 poor, near poor and GESI households in 4 provinces (Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Ben Tre).


WOBA Vietnam is working towards five key outcomes by 2022:

Outcome 1:

Strengthened national and sub-national WASH systems with government able to implement and sustain inclusive output-based aid WASH approaches in rural Vietnam.

Outcome 2:

Strengthened private sector ability to operate sustainably and reach poor and GESI communities in rural Vietnam; increasing their role in providing high quality WASH services to all.

Outcome 3:

Improved access to and use of equitable WASH services, especially among marginalised community members.

Outcome 4:

Improved gender empowerment and systematic inclusion of women and outcomes in households, communities and institutions.

Outcome 5: 

Increased use of evidence and innovation in gender and inclusive WASH in Vietnam and as a result, increased contribution from Vietnam to regional and global evidence base.



water for women logo

Thrive Networks Logo
East Meets West logo

The Australian aid program is investing in Vietnam over a five-year period to achieve these outcomes. Water for Women is proud to be partnering with Thrive Networks / East Meets West and other partners including the Vietnam Women’s Union.

*Project targets are based on partner Civil Society Organisations (CSO) baseline studies. Project targets are updated periodically in response to changes in context as appropriate. To see our latest progress towards targets, see our progress.

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