In March 2009, the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute (MDI) and the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) started a collaborative research project on local water management in Can Tho City. The research aims at understanding how water is managed at commune and hamlet level.
In March 2009, the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute (MDI) and the Centre for Development Research (ZEF) started a collaborative research project on local water management in Can Tho City. The research aims at understanding how water is managed at commune and hamlet level. Additionally the various aspects of water use, flood management, handling of wastewater and other issues are of special relevance to the project.
A research team of ZEF and MDI senior staff and five MDI master students originally started the fieldwork. A series of interviews with representatives of state agencies were conducted in five districts of Can Tho City. In general, state management structures exist at the provincial and district level and extensions or other services are established at commune level. The interviews focused on the question of how these offices and services operate and how they finally reach the population. Another important area of investigation was whether other decentralized institutions exist at the local level and what state agencies know about them.
Preliminary findings of the research team indicate that there are hundreds of production groups, clubs, saving groups and so on, an important number of which are involved in local water management. These include for example, water user groups who engage in small-scale irrigation management and saving groups who invest in domestic water supply. However, little is known about their modes of operation, the emergence and history of such groups and how dynamic these institutions are. Besides, the terminology in use is (both in English and Vietnamese) rather confusing. Therefore, the next step of the research will be to collect further data and information on these groups, assess the variety of organisations and identify those who have a stake in the water sector.
In the coming months, a questionnaire for these water related local organisations will be developed. The MDI master students will implement the questionnaire and the findings of the survey will be jointly analysed by ZEF and MDI researchers. In addition, five MA-students of the MDI will be supported with a small research grant (stipend) which will enable them to pursue their studies and extend their research activities. These students will then write their MA-thesis on a social science topic related to the ongoing research project.
Figure 1: At MDI - preparing the first field trip.
Figure 2: In the library - searching for books and documents.
Figure 3: MDI Master students presenting secondary data collected during the field trip.