Women Led Output Based Aid (WOBA) in Vietnam 

From 2018 - 2022, Water for Women partnered with Thrive Networks / East Meets West to deliver Women-Led Output Based Aid (WOBA) to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in 5 provinces of Vietnam, reaching over 104,700* people.

This project came to a close in December 2022.

This woman is happy to be using her newly installed tap. In Vietnam, Thrive Networks / East Meets West has delivered 'Women-led Output Based Aid’ to some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in five provinces. (Water for Women)


Women are the driving force behind a collaborative partnership that has been building community climate resilience across rural Vietnam. Supported by Australia through the Water for Women project Women Led Output Based Aid (WOBA), during the past five years Thrive Networks / East Meets West has been partnering with provincial Women’s Unions to improve access to inclusive water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for some of the poorest and most marginalised households in the five provinces of Hoa Binh, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh and Ben Tre.


More than 104,740 people living in the five project provinces now have improved access to WASH, including over 52,580 women and girls and 5,000 people with disabilities.




Thrive Networks / East Meets West 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. 


From 2018 - 2022, Water for Women partnered 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. The project aimed to:

  • Institutionalise successful approaches for reaching rural, low-income and GESI households with improved access to clean water, safely managed sanitation, and hygiene. 
  • Support the government to embed a targeted smart-subsidy program with provincial governments steadily increasing their co-financing of the approach.
  • Create meaningful gender empowerment outcomes through systematically engaging women as change agents in the sector and decision-makers in the household. 
  • Use WOBA's commercial sanitation model to 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.

WOBA supported 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 work has had on a family by following Mrs Yen and her Auntie and their experience.


At provincial level, the project sought 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 were deepened under WOBA, as the project not only required their leadership and guidance of other departments and lower administrative levels, but also required them to phase in financial resources for the project.

WOBA targeted 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 GEDSI and vulnerable households

Regional map of Vietnam


Other activities undertaken by WOBA throughout the project included a faecal sludge management pilot in Ben Tre province through a market intervention rather than a technology solution.  Thrive aimed 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 de-sludging 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 established a competitive subsidy fund for water enterprises.  Funding was disbursed on an output (household connections) basis for poor/GEDSI household connections. It was 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 increased access to clean water for thousands of poor, near poor and GEDSI households in 4 provinces (Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ha Tinh, Ben Tre).


“Customer service, good management and communications in [the] water supply sector are as important as the water quality itself. Thanks to the internal training organized by WOBA project, I am confident to communicate and share with our community about our climate-resilient water safety plan.”

A representative from Kenh Lap water scheme, Ben Tre city.


WOBA Vietnam was 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.


Key achievements

Over five years, Women-led Output Based Aid reached 104,742 people in their areas of operation. This includes having directly supported:

  • 52,580 women and girls
  • 5,000 people with disabilities
  • 18,000 marginalised and poor households to build hygienic latrines
  • 6,943 marginalised and poor households to install new water connections
  • 3,056 handwashing devices distributed to kindergartens, health stations and marginalised households.


Some project highlights include:

  • Work with the National Centre for Water Supply and Sanitation, part of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to create a guidebook to help underprivileged communities connect to safer water supplies and learn about climate-resilient water safety planning
  • Support of COVID-19 awareness and prevention initiatives during the height of the pandemic in partnership with the Vietnamese Women’s Union
  • Collaboration with the Vietnamese Women’s Union on the 150 million VND Innovation Fund in 2020 to expand or create science-based solutions to climate change and ensure inclusive WASH service delivery.

These outcomes are a testament to the power of partnerships and the tireless efforts of our partners at Thrive Networks / East Meet West, who worked in collaboration with provincial Women’s Unions, governments, communities, rights holder groups, WASH duty-bearers and operators to progress Sustainable Development Goal 6 - clean water and sanitation for all in the five provinces. 


 A water and WASH response is a COVID-19 response


In 2020, the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene was underscored as the globe grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic. With support from Australia's Partnerships for Recovery, our partners pivoted their projects and worked collaboratively to support countries in their COVID-19 responses and to embed COVID-19 preparedness into their WASH projects.


In Vietnam, Thrive Networks / East meets West built on their existing Water for Women project working with private sector businesses to improve WASH services for hard to reach poor and vulnerable GEDSI (gender and social inclusion) households, as well as kindergartens and health clinics.


A particular focus was to increase the number of handwashing facilities in 173 kindergartens that directly benefitted an estimated 50,000 kindergarten students and the teachers. Thrive promoted proper hand washing in these kindergartens across the 173 communes and worked with the families so that behaviours learned at school also carried through to households and communities.


Through the Student Parent Association, local authorities and the Vietnam Women's Union encouraged families to purchase HappyTaps for domestic use. This work also built the capacity of the Women's Union and other partners to support the delivery of WASH services and appropriate handwashing behaviours. Investigating and addressing the challenges that poor women and marginalised groups have in accessing and using handwashing facilities enabled Thrive and their partners, including government, to ensure access to appropriate handwashing facilities was sustained. 


Australia continues to support COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery activities across the Indo-Pacific region to secure our region's health, wellbeing and stability in these challenging times.


An unprecedented crisis requires a coordinated response. Through our water resources management and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects, we are not only delivering safe, equitable and sustainable water and WASH, we are also building healthy, inclusive and resilient societies. We're supporting individuals, communities and countries to endure, and recover from, the COVID-19 crisis as well as to future extreme events and natural disasters. 



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Australia's development assistance program is proud to have partnered with Thrive Networks / East Meets West and other partners including the Vietnam Women’s Union to achieve these outcomes.

*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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