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The next generation of ZEF junior researchers started field work

In Mid-May 2011, Huynh Thi Phuong Linh, Panagiota Kotsila and Siwei Tan arrived in Can Tho for their 10-month-long field research. All scientists are junior researchers at the Center for Development Studies (ZEF), Bonn and members of the ZEF/WISDOM team. They are hosted by the Can Tho University, where they have an office; senior scientists Dr Le Viet Dung, Dr Bui Thi Nga and Dr Nguyen Duy Can have also graciously agreed to act as local fieldwork supervisors.

The research agenda encompasses the following topics:
•    Local industrialization and water in the Mekong Delta
•    Water quality and health
•    Local water management (district and community levels)

Siwei Tan is studying industrial wastewater management around industrial agglomerations in the Mekong Delta. She will employ Ostrom's Institutional Analysis and Development framework to analyse the institutional environment around different clusters of industrial production in the Mekong Delta, such as industrial zones, industrial parks, and craft villages. Her research seeks to understand how this institutional environment, against the various conditions of physical co-location, shapes industrial wastewater management practices and outcomes. She has begun the first phase of her research with a visit to the thirteen provinces of the Delta, where she plans to obtain an overview of the process of industrialisation and industrial water management. In the second phase of her research, she will focus on case study sites and work with more stakeholders in order to gain more detailed insights into the practices and rules in operation.

Panagiota Kotsila is drawing insights from the multi-faceted relationship between water quality and health by looking into waterborne diseases in Can Tho City. Water related health risks are shaped by the unique waterscape in the region and the complex institutional settings that provide for social and environmental policy formation and implementation creating a certain background of waterborne disease history and understanding.

Research will focus on the ways people’s awareness around disease is formed and the potential this has on behavioral choices and ultimately exposure to disease threats. The first step of research has been to look into the general institutional setting of the Health Care system in the region and verify the relevance and importance of examining and controlling waterborne disease in the project region. A first round of interviews with health experts, health staff and patients as well as representatives of state agencies provided relevant background information for the upcoming selection of case study commune(s) within the Province. Qualitative social research methods are being applied in order to generate results on public perceptions and understandings as well as on existing strategies and potential capabilities for, or constraints against, waterborne disease.

Huynh Thi Phuong Linh is working on the topic “Water management at the local level”. The research in overall aims at understanding the everyday water management practices at the very local level – commune level - in the Mekong delta, given the current context of local institutions and changes (eg. new policies, programmes). The water users, technical and management agencies and other relevant actors and the interface between them are put in the focus of the research. The fieldwork took off with semi-structured interviews and field visits in governmental offices at provincial level and districts of Can Tho City as well as neighboring provinces. Data (maps, documents and interview results) is collected for the overview of irrigation and hydraulics works condition and management in the area, which is taken as a starting point to investigate water resources management practices in rural Can Tho. The next step will be to select the research sites, where in-depth interviews, (participant) observation and group discussions will be implemented.  



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