Country Water Actions

Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals, communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.

Viet Nam: Water for the Poor Partnership in Viet Nam
September 2004

BACKGROUND Water for the Poor- Partnerships for Action is a program launched in 2003 at the 3rd World Water Forum in Kyoto, Japan. Initially called the Rural Water and Poverty Action Initiative, the program works to catalyze and improve the quality of investments in water security for the rural poor in the region. Viet Nam was the first of ADB's developing member countries (DMCs) to join this partnership. Investment for this partnership is estimated at US$335 million, of which approximately $75 million would come from Viet Nam and $180 million from ADB, subject to approval by the Board. Co-financing from development partners will be sought for the balance. MAINSTREAMING POVERTY REDUCTION ... The partnership in Viet Nam focuses on mainstreaming poverty reduction more effectively in policies, programs and projects in the water sector. In the 18 months since it started, it has began to work at all levels to introduce more poverty targeted approaches to water management in Viet Nam. ... AT THE NATIONAL LEVEL At the national level, the partnership executed a dialogue on water and poverty that brought together stakeholders from many agencies to debate the nature of water-poverty links in Viet Nam. The dialogue also identified ways to reduce poverty through water management. The partnership also assisted in the development of the National Water Resources Strategy, in particular focusing on defining goals and targets that define the contribution water can make to achieve the Viet Nam Development Goals, the national version of the MDGs. Finally, a joint Government of Viet Nam (GoV) - donor review of rural water supply and sanitation is underway. The aim is to establish a 10-year strategic framework for the sector and to prepare a Memorandum of Understanding that the GoV and the donor community can sign to establish greater coordination in the sector.

... AT THE PROVINCIAL LEVEL At the provincial Level, work is in progress in six Central Region provinces to help establish a provincial water and poverty strategy. This strategy would include clear goals and targets, and identify capacity building needs to allow the provinces to become key managers of water resources. The provinces involved are Thanh Hoa, Quang Bing, Quang Tri, Thua Thien Hue, Quang Ngai, and Binh Dinh. These provinces will participate in the upcoming Central Region Water Resources Sector Project, funded jointly by the ADB and the Netherlands. This approach, which has been enthusiastically supported by the provinces, will be rolled forward into the development of future ADB projects, speeding up their design and making their links to poverty reduction much clearer. ... AT THE LOCAL LEVEL At the local level two leading NGOs, CARE and World Vision, are working with ADB to identify more effective approaches to community participation. In particular, they are focusing on the identification, planning and implementation of new water investments. These approaches will be integrated into the design of ADB projects. Another NGO, IDE, is being supported in the development of market-led approaches to small-scale water supply and sanitation. In this initiative, small local entrepreneurs are supported in providing local needs through sustainable and cost-effective market mechanisms. STRENGTHENING A NEW DEVELOPMENT FRAMEWORK The work at these three levels is putting into practice the key model developed for the partnership, which works through a hierarchy of targeting. The basis for more effective integrated water resources management and poverty reduction is to work from the overall development goals to the goals, objectives and targets of individual projects and activities, through the following sequence: 1. National Development Goals and Targets as defined in the Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (CPRGS) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 2. National Water Goals and Targets that specify the contribution water management can make to the achievement of the national development goals. These will be integrated into the development of the National Water Resources Strategy.

1. Provincial Water Goals and Targets, which will be based on translating the national water goals and targets to reflect the specific characteristics and priorities of individual provinces. These will be the basis for the development of provincial water resources strategies. 2. Project Goals, Objectives and Targets: the design of individual projects will then be based on specifying the contribution that they will make to achieving provincial and, where appropriate, national goals and targets. MAKING GRADUAL BUT CERTAIN PROGRESS The approach being developed in Viet Nam is one that is practical— working with the existing system and supporting the development of policies, programs and plans to make sure that poverty reduction is at the heart of decision-making over water management. It is built on the principle of partnerships at all levels. The work so far involves several branches of government— provincial authorities, NGOs, research and academic institutes, mass organisations such as the Viet Nam Women's Union, donors and a number of national and international experts who bring special knowledge to the process. It is already impacting on the development of policies and national strategies, is building capacities and empowering key stakeholders at local and provincial levels and is ensuring that future investments will have more explicit and direct poverty impacts than many in the past. The process through which it has been developed is an incremental one, where much was learned along the way. Much has been achieved in only 18 months, but the process has only just begun and great challenges still lie ahead. The commitment of all national partners to addressing these challenges will ensure that this process, which already shows some successes, will continue in the future.

RELATED LINKS PDA: Pilot-test the Preparatory Process of Developing a New Subproject Management Model

_______________________________ *This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in September 2004: The Country Water Action series was developed to showcase reforms and good practices in the water sector undertaken by ADB’s member countries. It offers a mix of experience and insights from projects funded by ADB and those undertaken directly by civil society, local governments, the private sector, media, and the academe. The Country Water Actions are regularly featured in ADB’s Water for All News, which covers water sector developments in the Asia and Pacific region.

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