The agency runs projects aimed at helping rural villages in Vietnam to build clean water facilities, which are vital to residents' health Easy access to a clean water source year-round is the key to improving and maintaining health in rural Vietnam. In areas where villagers must use water contaminated upstream from manure, waste, soil erosion and the use of fertilisers and pesticides, the people suffer from repeated bouts of diarrhoea, dysentery and intestinal, skin and eye diseases. A clean water source reduces the workload of water collectors - mainly women and children. Traditionally, water is carried and stored in bamboo pipes which only hold a small amount, necessitating up to 10 trips a day. Improved health and increased free time helps economic activity and better performance in school. Only about one-fifth of rural Vietnamese have access to clean water. Vietnam's stated goal is to raise access to 80 per cent of the rural population by the year 2000. Oxfam has been helping to reach that goal by providing more than 14,000 villagers with improved access to clean water since 1991. One of the villages in which Oxfam has worked is Ban Ma, a small community of 101 minority families who live deep in the mountains near the Laos border. Oxfam assisted in the construction of eight water storage tanks and eight bath houses to enable villagers, especially women, to bathe privately. Ban Ma residents helped with the design and implementation. They also elected a management committee, on which women are represented, to monitor construction, propose and enforce regulations about the use and maintenance of the tanks, ensure that the forest surrounding the source is not cut down, and collect user fees (usually five kilograms of rice per person per year) for a maintenance fund. After completion, Ban Ma hosted villagers from Ta Xieng, another possible site for a clean water project, so that they, too, could benefit from Ban Ma's experience. Oxfam Hong Kong is an independent development and relief agency based in Hong Kong which works with the poor regardless of race, sex, religion or politics in their struggle against poverty, distress and suffering.