Viet Nam: Agricultural Resources Conservation and Development Project in Quang Binh Province (Interim evaluation)

posted Dec 31, 2014, 11:58 PM by SUSDEC A   [ updated Jan 1, 2015, 12:34 AM ]

Rice field (SUSDEC's photo)

The Agricultural Resources Conservation and Development Project (ARCDP) was financed by an IFAD loan of USD 12.8 million with an additional UNDP/TA grant of USD 1.4 million and a borrower contribution of USD 1.9 million. The loan became effective on 15 April 1997 and the closing date was extended by six months to 30 December 2002. The IFAD Interim Evaluation is being conducted as a mandatory exercise prior to the consideration of a second phase of the project. The evaluation follows the methodological framework set out by IFAD’s Office of Evaluation. Primary data was collected through: (i) a series of participatory focus-group discussions with semi-structured questionnaires; (ii) case-studies of individual households and grassroots institutions based on interviews; (iii) open-ended interviews with key informants at all levels. Preliminary conclusions were presented at wrap-up meetings in Quang Binh and Hanoi and are due to be finalised at a workshop in Hanoi in early June.

Two important conditions should be noted: (i) The project had been closed for around fourteen months at the time of the Interim Evaluation Mission. Thus the technical implementation units and some of the grassroots organizations set up under the project were no longer functioning, and the project management unit consisted only of a residual presence now funded by the province. (ii) No independent impact assessment or household survey had been commissioned by the project. While the official commune-level statistics available are remarkably full, the trends that can be observed therein result from a multiplicity of interventions of which ARCDP is only one.

Main design features and implementation results

Project rationale and strategy. In line with IFAD’s overall strategy in Vietnam, the ARCDP was founded on an area-based, multi-sectoral and single-province approach. The rationale was that the reduction of poverty in Quang Binh might best be achieved by a mix of sectoral interventions implemented through the government departments, with community priorities identified through participatory processes involving all potential beneficiaries. The design of the project sought to develop participatory processes, encourage community ownership of schemes through users groups and self-management boards, assist in the creation of effective extension services, and leave behind it government departments with enhanced capacities and awareness.

Project area and target group. Some or all project activities were targeted at all communes in the seven districts of the province. Certain components, such as road rehabilitation, irrigation schemes and agricultural extension, were designed to benefit all members of the communities concerned, while others (sand dune fixation, credit) were to be targeted specifically at the poorer families. The total number of beneficiary households was calculated at around 65,000. The approach to targeting in project design was markedly flexible, being conceived as ‘a continuing process according to the implementation plan’, a rather imprecise indication. In terms of districts and zones, the two northerly districts of Tuyen Hoa and Minh Hoa are the districts with the highest rates of poverty. Very poor communities are also to be found in the sandy areas of the coastal belt. The bulk of project interventions were targeted to these two regions.

Goals, objectives, components. The goal of the ARCDP was the sustainable reduction of poverty, and the primary objectives were the increase of household incomes, improved food security and wellbeing, and reduction of isolation. Secondary objectives were a reduction in the provincial food deficit, the protection of property from shifting sand dunes and an enhancement of the capacity of technical services. The seven project components were: irrigation rehabilitation, agricultural development, aquacultural development, sand dune fixation, road rehabilitation, rural credit and institutional support. Specific objectives by component included: the expansion of the irrigated area by around 600 ha, increased agricultural and livestock production and productivity, increase in marine and freshwater products, the fixation of 4,000 ha of sand dunes as well as the provision of cash income for the communities involved in afforestation, the linking of isolated communities to each other and to markets through the rehabilitation of rural roads, and the improvement of the reach and capacity of extension services.

Implementation oartners and arrangements. Project implementation was to be carried out by the Water Resources Department (WRD), the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department for Science, Technology and Environment (DOSTE), and coordinated by a Project Coordination Unit (PCU) set up within the Department of Planning and Investment (DPI), whose parent ministry (MPI) acted as the Executing Agency for the project. Disbursement of project funds at provincial level was managed by the Department of Finance (DOF). A Sub-Loan Agreement was signed with the Vietnam Bank for Agricultural Development (VBARD) concerning the implementation of credit activities. Technical Implementing Units (TIUs) were to be set up within each implementing agency at provincial and district level to coordinate, supervise and monitor project activities. UNOPS was to act as Cooperating Institution in charge of loan administration and project supervision.

Changes in policy and institutions. Government policy concerning rural development has been marked by a growing commitment to poverty eradication. The Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS), a 10-year action plan adopted in 2002, outlined a growth-based strategy for poverty reduction, with policies covering macroeconomic, structural and sectoral areas, and an identification of priority programmes designed to feed into the annual investment plan. Proposals include increased resources to improve the research and extension system, enhancing access to credit for the poor, improving security of land tenure and sustainable management of natural resources with the involvement of all stakeholders. In terms of government institutions, there has been one significant change, the creation in July 2003 of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE) which assumed certain functions previously carried out by the Department of Science, Technology and Environment (DOSTE).

Design changes during implementation. The major design change was the creation of the Community Development Fund (CDF) component, approved in June 2001. Two-thirds of the CDF budget was drawn from funds of the under-performing credit sub-component and the remainder from savings in equipment procurement, training and project operation, together with a previously unallocated sum. The stated purpose of the CDF was to sharpen the poverty focus of the project and more directly to meet the priorities of communities expressed through PRA. The closing date of the project was shifted from 30 June 2002 to 31 December 2002. The proposed involvement of the World Food Programme in financing food-for-work operations, to a total of USD 2.5 million, did not materialise.

Main implementation results. The overall financial target of the project was met, with a full disbursement of the IFAD loan amount and the UNDP grant. The only substantial under-achievement in financial terms was under the credit component. In physical terms, the project achieved its main objectives by: (i) expanding the irrigated area by 1,306 ha and upgrading irrigation facilities for a further 2,236 ha; (ii) establishing and strengthening breeding stations and AI centres and improving the capacities of staff and beneficiaries; (iii) establishing a commune-level agricultural extension system and a network of demonstration sites; (iv) investing in shrimp hatcheries and fingerling stations together with appropriate demonstrations; (v) organising the afforestation of 5,000 ha of sand dunes by 2,600 selected households, who were remunerated in cash; (vi) building or upgrading 166.3 km of good quality rural roads and constructing a ferry and two large bridges; (vii) establishing a project management and coordination structure as designed; (viii) producing the required annual work plans AWP&Bs based on the results of PLA/ PRA; (ix) putting in place an M&E system and carrying out participatory M&E exercises; (x) following the guidelines and regulations concerning the procurement of goods, fund withdrawals and reporting systems and the submission of financial and M&E reports. In terms of training and capacity building, a full programme of courses was implemented under each component. Users groups and self-management boards were set up for the various activities to ensure the participation of communities in the implementation and maintenance of the various schemes.

Problems in implementation. The main areas for concern were as follows. (i) The credit component was largely ineffective from the start, mainly due to weaknesses in design, which failed to take into account the availability of credit from other sources at lower interest rates, the need for suitable incentives for the lending institution (VBARD) and the lack of legal status of the savings and credit groups. Only 28% of the budget was disbursed and only around 4,000 households received loans. (ii) The average actual per km cost of the upgraded roads was about 80 percent higher than the planned per km cost. (iii) Under the aquaculture component, only 60 ha of shrimp ponds were upgraded as against the planned 400 ha, only 60 of 5,000 fish cages were constructed and an effective extension system was not put in place. (iv) Because of the weak performance of the credit component, the proposed expansion of income generating opportunities did not take place, affecting in particular the planned increases in livestock production.

Rural poverty impact

Overall impact assessment. Official statistics show a reduction in the proportion of poor households in the province from 36% to 21% in the six years of project operation. Yield increases of around 5% are indicated for the land covered by upgraded irrigation schemes; the benefits of rehabilitated markets and roads are reflected in unquantifiable increases in economic activity. Afforestation in the dunes provided direct income to poor households, as did the various employment opportunities under the project. Provincial figures show an 11% increase in numbers of pigs and nearly 50% in numbers of poultry (the two kinds of livestock favoured by poorer households) between 1996 and 2002. Access to schools, health centres and markets improved as a result of roadbuilding, and the communities located close to the rehabilitated markets benefited from better provisioned and more frequent markets. On the other hand, the relative failure of the credit component entailed a dearth of the new income-generating opportunities for the poor which were envisaged in project design.

Impact on physical assets. Irrigation schemes resulted in increased agricultural production (mainly rice) for an estimated 12,000 households. In many cases, the yield increase was much greater than the reported average of 5%. The remuneration of local labour entailed considerable cash earnings, notably in the construction of irrigation works and for tree planting and maintenance in the dune areas, where the selected households were able to earn up to VND 20 million in two years. A total of VND 7 billion was paid to labourers for work on the new roads, although local labour was not always preferred by the contractors, despite requirements set out at project design. Households interviewed by the mission in six districts (including the poorest districts of Minh Hoa and Tuyen Hoa) reported an average reduction of the period of food deficiency of around three months.

Communications. The new roads have contributed significantly to socio-economic development in isolated communes in mountainous and coastal regions, directly affecting perhaps 55,000 households. The movement of vehicles has increased substantially, with estimated increases of 3,000 percent, 600 percent and 300 percent for bicycles, motor cycles and pick-ups respectively. Improved access to markets has caused reductions of up to 100% in the price of agriculture inputs as well as substantial increases in prices paid to the farmers for their produce. In some cases, new settlements have grown up along ARCDP roads.

Training. Training and capacity building constituted an important aspect of the project, and nearly 400 training courses were conducted by the project on animal husbandry, cultivation, integrated pest management (IPM), irrigation, road management and afforestation. Courses in IPM and in the raising and plantation of seedlings under the sand dune fixation component were particularly appreciated.

Gender impact. The mission found with the exception of the issue of land titles for women little evidence of discrimination against women in project activities. Women participated fully in training courses, PRA exercises and participatory M&E. The proportion of women in SMBs, WUGs and project management boards were estimated by the project at 25%, 37% and 21.5 % respectively, while 70% of all workers in the sand dune fixation activities were women. Outstanding gender issues relate to inequality within households and to problems of empowerment rather than income: while women often manage the money, the traditional dominance of husbands in decision-making is unimpaired. As mentioned above, the practice of granting of land use certificates in the husband’s name prevents women from accessing formal credit, and the news of legislative changes, with titles issued jointly to husband and wife, has not filtered through to the villages. It is felt that it is the effects of traditional culture and prejudice that underlie gender discrimination in Vietnam, rather than bias in government policy.

Water supply, health, education. The provision of reliable and uncontaminated water supplies under CDF has had a positive effect on the incidence of diseases of the eyes and skin, as well as on dysentery and typhoid. Primary schools and kindergartens were also constructed under CDF. Schools reported a reduction in drop-out rates, an even gender balance and better health.

Participatory development. Training in PRA was given to nearly 300 workers at district and commune level and PRA exercises were carried out for all components. However, there were weaknesses in terms of the purpose and outcome of these exercises, with PRA often conducted by line departments in order to seek approval and support for predetermined activities. Intensive social mobilisation was carried out by a handpicked team in three pilot villages, where significant advances were observed in terms of awareness, confidence and capacities, as well as of livelihood and welfare. The major breakthrough was the transfer of resources to SMBs for implementation and management of schemes.

Environmental impact. The environmental impact of ARCDP has been neutral or positive, but there are environmental problems concerned with the spread of shrimp farming, notably the contamination of groundwater in the sandy areas. On the other hand, afforestation of the dunes has resulted not only in improvements of soil and water but in a greater understanding among villagers of the importance of tree planting and its continuation after project closure.

Impact on institutions and policies. In terms of institutional development, the major efforts of the project were the building of management and technical capacities within the line departments, the establishment of an agricultural extension system to commune level, and the development of grassroots institutions. Institutional support was funded by UNDP, which reported major improvements in terms of knowledge, skills and effectiveness at all levels. Under the agricultural development component, trained extension workers were appointed in each commune, an important achievement. Some farmers, however, reported the performance of commune level extension as unsatisfactory and further investment in training is essential. 
20. Sustainability. The sustainability of infrastructural improvements was not felt by the mission to be an issue, but there are concerns in other respects, notably regarding participatory approaches, as follows: (i) line agencies are not equipped to manage the dual responsibilities of technical support and the promotion of genuine ownership of schemes by the communities; (ii) the PRA conducted by the project were activity-specific and the required linkages between different components and programmes were lacking in project design; (iii) social mobilisation was utilised principally as a means of encouraging community involvement in planning and implementation rather than as an instrument of empowerment; (iv) in the three pilot schemes, the institutional structure was over-complex and paid insufficient attention to existing channels of administrative authority; (v) some self-management boards, for example in the sand dune fixation component, disappeared after the completion of the project; (vi) in 2002, UNOPS reported that only one-quarter of the savings and credit groups were still functioning.

With regard to training and capacity building, the mission made the following observations: (i) the building of the capacity of the technical departments will not result in a dynamic process unless ongoing training programmes are systematized within the departments; (ii) for all training courses, an archive of courses, materials and manuals must be built up; (iii) the usefulness of courses will be enhanced if their duration is increased and the content focuses more on practical field-based instruction; (iv) the utilization of ICT should be considered, so that digitized versions of the courses can be stored in project or line agency databases; (v) agricultural or aquacultural training is much less effective when the credit programme is inoperative.

Innovation and replicability. The most important achievement of the project in this respect was the transfer of the financial management of development funds to village level. The ‘model’ SMBs have already been utilised by the districts as part of their own programmes. Similarly, the Water Users Groups set up under the ARCDP irrigation have been replicated by the province for all small-scale irrigation schemes throughout the province. A further innovation of the project was the practice of carrying out separate PRA exercises for groups of men and women. The provincial initiatives to continue the employment of commune-level extension workers after project closure should also be commended.

Performance of the project

Relevance of objectives. The ARCDP attempted to addressed the shortage of productive land by expanding the irrigated area; the remoteness of communities by building and upgrading new roads and markets, the declining income from in-shore fishing by providing alternative sources of income, the problems of under-employment by providing credit, training and expertise in relevant areas and the destructiveness of typhoons through its contribution to the afforestation of the dunes. In terms of the strategies of IFAD, the project followed the main recommendations of the 1996 Country Strategic Opportunities Paper (COSOP). The major design weaknesses related to the lack of integration between components, the formulation of the credit programme and the lack of poverty focus in the targeting of activities. Although poorer households benefited from the upgrading of roads, markets, irrigation schemes and domestic water supplies, they were not specifically targeted by the activities relating to increased agricultural production, animal husbandry and income generation.

Effectiveness. Assessment of the effectiveness of the project is bedevilled by the failure to set clear, measurable and time-oriented objectives for each component. The ‘reduction of poverty’ is theoverall intention of the project but an appropriate hierarchy of objectives is required. For example: in the sand fixation component, the objective must be the degree or rate of fixation of the dunes not the number of hectares planted; for roadbuilding, the objective might be defined in terms of the reduction in the cost or time of transportation not of the total length of upgraded roads; for the irrigation component, the area irrigated or the number of households affected could be set as the specific objectives. In some project documents, the objective at the component level was taken as the delivery of the budget. If the primary objective of the various components is seen in terms of physical or financial targets, all of the components apart from the credit component were ‘effective’. However, these objectives have not been matched with the overall objective of the reduction of poverty and food insecurity.

Efficiency. The major issue raised by the mission in this respect is whether existing institutions have been sufficiently utilised in the identification of the needs of villagers and in the planning and implementation of activities. The achievements of the Social Mobilisation model in three villages were substantial, but project specific structures have no proper legal status, their functioning is dependent on the approval of the CPC and they tend to be led by the incumbent village heads and commune officials. The model was imported from northern Pakistan, where it was designed to fill an institutional vacuum at the local level, but in Vietnam an administrative system is in place down to commune and village level and powerful mass organisations exist. Strengthening the existing institutions and involving them closely in project activities would be a more efficient, cheaper and more sustainable means to the desired ends.

The main reasons for the poor performance and ultimate scrapping of the rural credit component were the existence of cheaper sources of credit and the lack of incentives for the participating bank. Collateral-free credit was to be an integral part of ARCDP activities and, by serving to support beneficiaries for improved livestock and crop production and other income generation enterprises, was to be the primary means of targeting the poorest households. Because of collateral requirements and cumbersome procedures, alternative sources of credit remained beyond the reach of the poorer households. These problems were repeatedly raised by UNOPS supervision missions yet no effective action was taken until 2001. The fault may have lain partly with the infrequency of supervision missions, but there must also have been shortcomings in the communications between the project, the Cooperating Institution and IFAD.

The performance of partners

IFAD. The choice of Quang Binh province and the selection of activities were in line with the overall country strategy of IFAD and with the stated priorities of the Government. Project design can be criticised, however, for its weak poverty focus, its failure to insist on non-sectoral and objective PRA and the faulty design of the credit component. The most important innovation created by the social mobilisation model was the transfer of the management of development funds to village level. If the necessary regulatory framework can be established, this may prove to be the most radical of project impacts in institutional terms.

IFAD contributions to policy development are made indirectly through partners such as UNDP as well as through IFAD’s reputation for innovation in the field. The Government acknowledged its debt to IFAD experience in its formulation of the CPRGS. However, the mission encountered surprising ignorance of IFAD even among senior officials of donor-funded programmes, and more needs to be done in developing synergies with other poverty projects through policy dialogue and partnership building.

The Government of Vietnam. The Government has been consistently supportive of the ARCDP. Cumbersome procedural requirements, for example for withdrawal applications, have been simplified. A gradual process of decentralization has been underway, and what is now required is a formal regulatory framework permitting the financial management of schemes at village-level. The provincial and district level departments were responsible for the replication of project models, particularly the O&M of irrigation schemes by beneficiaries, and the PPC ensured the continuation of the new agricultural extension system through the provincial budget.

UNDP. With its close ties with the government and its strong in-country presence, has a significant influence on developments in policy and approach, and IFAD has benefited not only from the technical assistance provided by UNDP but through its presence in key fora at central level. If UNDP is to be involved in supervision of IFAD projects, a possibility supported by the Government, a detailed assessment of UNDP’s operational capacities will be required.

UNOPS. Carried out the supervision missions as stipulated but the infrequency of field visits, the lack of prompt follow-up and changes in personnel are constraints. Problematic issues such as credit, participatory processes and targeting were repeatedly highlighted in supervision reports, but remained unresolved for long periods. For more prompt and effective follow-up, changes in the supervision arrangements between IFAD and UNOPS are necessary.

Conclusions and recommendations

The province of Quang Binh had a very high rate of poverty at the start and this rate, although still unacceptably high, has fallen steeply. Given the size of the ARCDP investment (USD 14 million over six years) and the multiplicity of interventions in most communes, it may be assumed that much of this improvement is accountable to the IFAD-funded project. The multi-component, multi-sectoral approach seems correct in the circumstances, and the emphasis on agriculture, aquaculture, livestock, communications and markets was appropriate in terms of the overall objective of poverty reduction.

The mission concludes that a second phase of the project would constitute a constructive use of IFAD resources in Vietnam, on the following grounds: (a) the poverty rate is still high (around 20%) and there are still communities in remote inland areas and in the sandy zone of the coast suffering from food insecurity, lack of employment opportunities and basic amenities such as reliable water supplies; (b) many of the ARCDP interventions seem incomplete, especially in the sphere of capacity building and training, in which a start has been made but continuing efforts are necessary to consolidate the investments to date. The major issues requiring attention in the formulation of a second phase are listed below:

  • Greater integration between diverse activities. In one commune, project activities may have consisted of the building of a road and the expansion of the irrigated area; in another, a bridge, shrimp ponds and tree-plantation; in a third, savings and credit groups and the rehabilitation of the local market. These activities remained sectorally based and effectively separate. As a result, the ARCDP lacked a recognisable identity. The mission recommends that schools be used as the focal points for development activities in a given area;

  • The poverty focus of the project was weak. The main reasons for this were a lack of precision in project design, a tendency to predetermined activities in certain key components and the weakness of the credit component;

  • The objectives of the project were not clearly defined.For some components, the expenditure of the budget or the fulfilment of physical targets became the major criteria of performance; and

  • Project-specific institutions may not be sustainable.Alternative or parallel institutions are exotic, and the revised institutional arrangements may serve only to meet the conditions of the new investment and to act as the conduit for the funds. No criticism is implied of the aims of the new arrangements, but the mission has doubts about their sustainability. One of the model SMBs was disbanded on account of an administrative change, and the others, with their present complexity, may only survive if the levels of external investment continue.

The mission recommends that Phase II should develop active partnerships with ADB, particularly since ADB’s Central Region Livelihood Improvement Project pursues similar objectives with the same target group and in the same province. Strong collaboration is encouraged in the area of information exchange, experience sharing and policy dialogue with the Government. The mission further recommends that the resources of IFAD Phase II should concentrate on the 12 communes of the sandy zone, the coastal communities of the river estuaries and islets and the poorer communes of the inland areas of Bo Trach, Quang Trach, Quang Ninh and Le Thuy.2 The identified coastal communes should be segmented into development areas and each area should be targeted with specific objectives. All activities in the area need to be integrated so as to lead to the achievement of the area objective set. The main emphasis should be on agricultural development and income diversification, facilitated by appropriate credit arrangements.

Infrastructure. The cost of upgrading roads in Phase I exceeded the planned cost by 80% and the cost of irrigation schemes by 35%. In future, these costs must be strictly controlled. Roadbuilding as a single, stand-alone intervention should be avoided. The cost of maintenance of unpaved roads is usually high and the project may consider tarring such roads from the outset.

Agricultural extension. The foundations for a commune-level extension service have been laid, but further training, as well as the careful screening of personnel in terms of motivation and suitability, is required. Given the diverse activities and large areas involved, specific and achievable aims must be set and monitored.

Rural Credit. The repeated recommendations made by UNOPs in this respect need to be examined and the design of the component thoroughly revised. The lessons learned from the IFAD-funded Ha Tinh project (HTRDP) can be applied. The mission recommends that there should be no haste to connect savings and credit groups with financial institutions. Financial discipline and management of intra-group loans are first necessary.

Sand dune fixation. In Phase II, the mission recommends that the process of afforestation be community-targeted, without the setting of an overall target in terms of hectarage. What is required is a zonal approach to match the situation and needs of each community, which would be responsible for planting and protection. It is also essential for sustainability that plantations be included under forestry protection schemes, to provide an incentive to villagers to protect the trees after project closure.

Aquaculture. The farming of shrimp has been out of reach for poor households because of the size of the initial investment. The initiatives of the DANIDA-funded programme within the Ministry of Fisheries should be examined, but aquacultural objectives should probably concentrate on small-scale processing and fish cage culture.

Community development fund. A key ingredient would be the setting up of genuinely flexible Community Development Funds, of which the investments would be owned and managed at village level. However, it is recommended that models of participatory development should utilize existing commune and village level organisations institutions, and the role of the CPC and other institutions should be formalized in this context. Community Facilitators (CFs) should be directly employed by the project to guide and support participatory development. A model for these CFs exists in the poorest 48 communes under the HTRDP.

Project organization. The mission considers the design of project organization more appropriate for strategic and policy making levels than for operational management. In Phase II, it may be preferable for the project directly to employ full-time technical staff rather than make part-time use of existing departments.

Management information system. A radical overhaul of the present arrangements is required. The management function and information needs at the various levels must be assessed, and an appropriate reporting system devised; a database for the PCU and the Technical Departments should be designed, with suitable access system and security mechanism. Reports should be digitized and electronically disseminated. A wide area network should be set up, using the existing telephone network or by establishing a private virtual network on the internet.

Institutional support. Further investment is required in the capacity building and outreach of the various line agencies, particularly with regard to the extension services for agriculture and aquaculture. The new environmental department (DONRE) urgently requires investment in terms of equipment and skills.

Supervision. More prompt follow-up is required on the recommendations of missions, and some contractual changes may be necessary between IFAD and UNOPS.

Technical assistance. Appointments under TA should be made on a short-term basis with very specific conditions in terms of tasks and objectives. Given the availability of expertise available within the country, local consultants should be preferred wherever possible.

Policy dialogue. The Government of Vietnam and the other donors recognize IFAD experience, expertise and knowledge of poverty alleviation, but there is a clear need for IFAD directly to involve itself in the development of national policies and strategies and of synergies with other poverty alleviation programmes through the instruments of policy dialogue, coordination and partnership building. IFAD should give further consideration to the vexed issue of maintaining some form of in-country presence.

1/ The composition of the Interim Evaluation Mission was as follows: Roger Norman, Team Leader and environmentalist; Ravi Raina, infrastructure consultant; Qaim Shah, agricultural and institutional consultant; Tran Thi Tram Anh, gender and participation consultant; Sarath Mananwatte, Economist. The Mission included as observers national counterparts from the Provincial Project Coordination Unit and District cadres. Ashwani Muthoo, IFAD Senior Evaluation Officer, joined the Mission in its final week. The National Wrap-up Meeting was chaired by the Vice Director General of the Department of Agricultural Economy, Ministry of Planning and Investment and attended by Mattia Prayer Galletti, the outgoing IFAD Country Programme Manager (CPM), Ms Atsuko Toda, the designate CPM and members of the formulation mission for the proposed follow-on project as observers, as well as key decision makers at provincial level and from the concerned ministries and partner agencies.

2/ This would be in line with the MPI’s request – made to the mission during the initial workshop – that more be done to assist the coastal communities.


posted Feb 18, 2014, 4:20 AM by SUSDEC A   [ updated Feb 18, 2014, 4:20 AM ]

Vietnam has a coastline of over 3260 kms  with over 3,000 islands and archipelagos, the exclusive economic zone is more  than  1 million square kms, which is  extremely favorable for the exploitation and development of the marine economy. Vietnam sea converges ecosystems of shallow water such as mangrove forests, coral reefs, sea grass.

Coastal and island areas of Vietnam  are  the natural habitat of aquatic species, water birds, migratory birds, plants and animals on the islands, resident species,  in which there are 692 phytoplankton species, 657 species of zooplankton, 94 species of mangrove plants, 14 species of sea grass, 653 species of algae, 6377 species of large benthic invertebrates  (2523 species of mollusc,1647  species of crustacean, 714 species of intestinal cavity, 734 species of annelid,  384 species of echinoderm and many other benthic groups), about 2175 species of sea fish (including 779 species of reef fish), 21 species of marine reptiles, 21 species of mammals sea​​, 43 species of seabird (and there are about 200 species of migratory birds  in winter), there are more than 20 typical types of coastal and marine ecosystem belonging to 6  different marine biodiversity .

            However, the marine ecosystems are degrading. Most of the coastal ecosystems of Vietnam are at risk of degradation due to overexploitation, severely threatened by waste pollution, sedimentation and pollution by oil spill.

Coral reef ecosystems are distributed in coastal areas, islands around the continental shelf, Cô Tô islands, Hạ Long – Cát Bà, Bạch Long Vĩ,  Cù Lao Chàm Islands, Van Phong , Nha Trang, coastal Ninh Hải (Ninh Thuận), and Cà Ná bays, Phú Quý, Côn Đảo, Phu Quốc  islands, Nam Du and two offshore islands Hoàng Sa and Trường Sa. According to Institute of Natural Resources and Environment, on the basis of measurements at 20 points along the coast, including Hạ Long Bay, Central Coast and the islands of Côn Đảo, Phú Quốc, the reef area remains about 14,130 hectares .

According to the research results of  Nha Trang Oceanographic Institute,  from 1994 to 2007,  the  coral coverage reduced in the range from 2.8 to 29.7% (average 10.6%), especially in Con Dao sea , coastal areas  of Ninh Hải - Ninh Thuận and Nha Trang bay.

            In the context of the degradation of  ecosystem and marine biodiversity, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 742/QD-TTg dated May 26, 2010 approving of the planning system of marine protection areas  by 2020 including  16 parks with an area of 169 617 hectares  of sea area. Under this plan, the goal by 2015, there should be at least 0.24% of Vietnam's waters in marine protected areas and about 30% of each marine protected area should be strictly conserved. There have been five marine protection areas  that come put into operation as Nha Trang bay, Cu Lao Cham, Nui Chua, Phú Quốc and Cồn Cỏ. 

Lê Mai

Impacts of climate change on natual resources in Vietnam

posted Oct 23, 2009, 12:21 AM by SUSDEC A   [ updated Aug 18, 2013, 12:55 AM ]

 Land resources: Natural land area of ​​Vietnam ranks 59th out of 200 countries and territories and the natural land area per capita is extremely low (0.38 ha). Meanwhile, the area of ​​agricultural land per capita is 0.07 ha. Vietnam’s Land resources are rich in species, including 62 types of land in the 14 groups distributed throughout the regions of the country.
Soil erosion in Tra Vinh province

Agricultural land area in Vietnam is  26 226 hectares, accounting for 79.24% of the area of ​​natural land, of which agricultural land takes up 10,126 thousand hectares, forest land 15,366 hectares, aquaculture land 690,000 hectares and land for other agricultural purposes  26 thousand hectares, respectively. The area of non-agricultural land is 3,705 hectares, accounting for 11.20%, including 684 thousand hectares of residential land, 1,824 hectares of specialized land and 1,198 hectares of other non-agricultural land. Unused land area, which accounts for 9.56% of the natural land, takes up 3,164 hectares including 237 thousand hectares of flat land and 2,633 thousand ha of hilly land. With an increase of 1 meter of sea level caused by climate change, approximately 38.29% of the area of ​​natural land and 32.16% of agricultural land in 10 provinces in the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City will be flooded in salt water, 7.6 million tons of rice / year, ie 40% of total rice production of the area, will lost; many coastal land strips will erode into the sea and sea water spilled into the coastal plains will alter soil cultivation and thousands of hectares of land area will be submerged in salt water. Beside, climate change will also cause floods, devastated forests, landslides, resulting in bare hills, water shortage and wilderness... Consequently, Vietnam will be at a risk of facing severe food shortage.

Mineral Resources: The categories of mineral resources in Vietnam are relatively diverse. Some types of mineral including oil and gas, bauxite, titanium, coal, rare earth have significant reserves and potential to be developed into industries. The basic geological investigation and mapping of minerals of Vietnam with a scale of 1: 50,000 have only covered nearly 60% of the land area, with a depth of 100m and mainly in the scale of 1: 50,000 of ​​sea water to a depth of 100m. Therefore, so far it has been unable to estimate the potential mineral resources of the country thoroughly. Rising sea levels and storms will bring about difficulties and might engulf the mining industry.

Renewable energy: Vietnam has the substantial potential of renewable energy, especially wind, solar, geothermal, hydro energy, etc. Currently, Vietnam's hydropower contributes about 11.23% of the total primary energy and 14.3% of total final energy of the country. Small hydropower plants can reach 7,000 MW. Droughts and floods might destroy dams, deplete water in streams and rivers, which will lead to a fact that hydro-electric plants will not be able to operate.

Water Resources: There are 3,450 streams and rivers in Vietnam with the length of 10 km or more, including 206 trans-national water resources with the total average annual surface water of about 830 billion m3, which mainly flow through big rivers. The total potential reserve of underground water is about 63 billion m3 per year and distributed mainly in the plain and highland regions. The Water Resource in Vietnam unevenly distributed in space and time in the year. It is droughts which led to local and occasional large scale-water shortage in some areas.

Forest resources: in 2011, Vietnam's forest area is 13,515,064 ha (coverage: 39.7%), including 10,285,383 ha of natural forests (76.1%), plantation 3,229,681 hectares (23.9%). Nevertheless, the area of ​​primary forest has been on a severe decline and the insignificant amount left mostly concentrated in natural protection and conservation areas. Almost all current natural forests are of degraded forests. Mangrove forest area was reduced by more than half in the last decade and continues to decline.

Aquatic resources: In the waters of Vietnam, about 11,000 species that reside in more than 20 types of typical ecosystems have been detected. Of the total number of discovered species, about 6,000 ones are bottom feeders, 2,038 fishes, including 100 economic species, 653 algae, 657 types of zooplankton, 537 types of phytoplankton, 94 mangrove plants species, 225 species of shrimp, 14 species of seaweed, 15 species of snakes, 12 species of mammals, 5 species of turtles, 43 species of waterfowls. Valuable aquaculture reserve of Vietnam is estimated at about 3.5 million tons. When the temperature rises, affecting aquaculture, many sea creatures might die and many species of freshwater species will have to suffer the loss of habitat due to rising sea level. Floods, cyclones and storm caused severe damage to fishing activities at sea as well as on rivers and lakes...

                                                                                  LE MAI

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