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Water Management Decentralization in the Red River Delta, Vietnam: An Uncompleted Transition Process Toward Local Governance

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Fontenelle, Jean-Philippe
Conference: Constituting the Commons: Crafting Sustainable Commons in the New Millennium, the Eighth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Common Property
Location: Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Conf. Date: May 31-June 4
Date: 2000
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/168
Sector: Agriculture
Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: East Asia
Subject(s): IASC
common pool resources
water resources
resource management
institutional change
Abstract: "The political evolution of the 1980s, which led to a liberalization of the economy and to State withdrawal from agricultural production, was the framework of important changes in hydraulic systems of the Red River delta in Vietnam. A vast number of small local systems was created. These systems found a place among the grid formerly defined by hydraulic schemes of big size, centrally managed by specialized State organizations, Irrigation and Drainage Management Companies (IDMC). "Small systems were created by communal co-operatives in response to water-users local demand, who were dissatisfied with respect to centralized systems water supply. Actually, these small systems play today an essential part in irrigation, even in drainage of Red River delta paddy fields. Yet, State agencies do not take them into account in their characterization of delta hydraulics formal framework. "The national reform of communal co-operatives launched in 1996, consolidates the function of old local collectivist organizations in supervising farming households, in their granting the ability of becoming commercial institutions of service bound for users. The services concerned are initially water supply, but also electricity supply and in few cases farm equipment. "Vietnamese State recognizes with the co-operatives a legitimacy of representation of the farming households toward hydraulic management, via its support to a strict organization of resources management, while refusing to integrate the existence of small local hydraulic systems. Actually, they were created by co-operatives, but according to a reverse dynamics, initiated by users' local demand. "It results from this an important shift between formal and informal framework. Negotiations between co- operatives and IDMCs, such as the financial resource sharing, are managed in terms of a power struggle, apart from any transparency. This transition period is leading to a great diversity of situations. At the same time new local innovative management solutions emerge, but misuses of power due to water-users' exclusion from the formal arena of negotiation also arise."

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