The proposed project (Project) aims to rehabilitate and upgrade existing but deteriorated productive rural infrastructure (PRI) in five central highland provinces (CHP) of Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dac Lak, Dac Nong and Lam Dong over a period of seven years. It directly supports the Government of Viet Nam's (Government) National Target Program for New Rural Development (NRD). The PRI has deteriorated because of limited funding available for new investment and a constrained capacity to sustainably develop, manage and use the assets. This contributes to CHP's poverty by constraining rural productivity. The Project would focus on sustainably improving approximately 30 medium scale irrigation systems, and associated PRI including: rural access infrastructure; and, local markets. In consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the 30 subprojects would be selected from CHP's Socio-Economic Development Plans. The improved PRI is expected to enable communities to respond to market signals by: increasing agricultural intensity and diversity; providing quicker and safer access to markets, employment opportunities, and social services; and, reducing costs of rural production and marketing, as well as reducing food wastage. Improved PRI increases incomes from both on- and off-farm employment, decreases the burden of chores on women, and increases food availability even when yields are constant. This is pro-poor and will be increasingly important for climate change resilience (CCR).
The Project advances two key, Government supported innovations. The first innovation enhances PRI sustainability and includes good practice, which has previously not been systematically implemented by: (i) concentrating a critical mass of PRI investments in selected productive areas; (ii) having the communities prioritize the PRI improvements in and around the selected irrigation schemes; (iii) preparing PRI condition inventories and a program to update them; (iv) using whole asset life analysis with realistic maintenance assumptions as the basis for design and sustainable management; (v) improving trails and paths within the irrigation systems thus separating pedestrians and cyclists who are often women and children from motorized traffic and reducing the loss of productive land; and (vi) incorporating bio-engineering for soil and water conservation in the design thus stabilizing the local ecosystems and improving CCR.
The second innovation is multi-level capacity building measures (CBM) that are gender sensitive to assist stakeholders (owners, managers and users) to sustainably develop, manage and use PRI. The CBM will have three key components: (i) Preparation of a long-term capacity building strategy; (ii) Strengthening local capacity to manage the PRI improved by the Project; and (iii) Building the local knowledge base for sustainable PRI development. CBM activities would include opportunities for: (i) PRI stakeholder training; (ii) upgrading PRI related qualifications of CHP officials; (iii) research of PRI knowledge gaps; and (iv) Work experience for agriculture and engineering students. Each CBM level, including technical and managerial content, will ensure good practices used by stakeholders are fully consistent with each other and institutionalized in formal and non-formal training courses and academic curricula.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The majority (84%) of the population of the CHP live in sparsely populated and dispersed villages where land is suitable for agriculture. The primary income source for nearly all rural CHP households is farming. While poverty has been reduced nationwide, from 18.1% in 2002 to 13.4% in 2008, equivalent figures in the CHP were 29.2% in 2004, and 21% in 2008, with women poorer than men. Poverty rates among some ethnic minorities in more isolated areas are as high as 70% 80%. These figures reflect the more difficult terrain, and the lack of commercial opportunities, social services, and arable land, compounded by poor quality PRI.
Improving PRI and associated CBM are key components of the Government's draft Socio-Economic Development Plan (2011-2015) and MARD's Five Year Plan (2011 - 2015). They are contained in ADB's draft Country Partnership Strategy (2011-2015), and consistent with the ADB's Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment (ANRE) Viet Nam's Assessment, Strategy and Roadmap (ASR). ADB has comparative advantages from its long PRI experience and capacity to provide significant PRI investments. The Project is a logical progression to, and incorporates lessons learned from, ADB supported PRI projects in Viet Nam, including the need for: long-term CBM; beneficiary involvement; subproject prescreening during the Project Preparatory Technical Assistance (PPTA); ensuring the subprojects are properly designed and budgeted; start up support; and geographically focusing investments.