|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The majority (about 71%) of the CHP population lives in rural areas where the primary income source is farming. While poverty has been reduced nationwide from 18.1% in 2002 to 10.7% in 2010, in the CHPs in 2010, the average poverty rate was 22.2%. Contributing factors are difficult terrain, and hence inaccessibility, and the lack of commercial opportunities, social services, and arable land in some of the areas, compounded by deteriorated PRI. Poverty rates in some isolated areas of the CHP are 70% -80% among ethnic minority people, who represent between 21% and 53% of the provincial populations. Women, especially those of ethnic minorities, tend to account for higher poverty rates than men.
Less than 11% of arable land in the CHP has irrigation infrastructure and much of it is performing poorly because of age, under-engineered for current use, limited funding available for new investment, and a historically limited capacity for asset maintenance. Viet Nam's record of poverty reduction has been driven by agricultural reforms facilitated by good access to infrastructure. Viet Nam has gained an important position in the global agricultural market, particularly coffee, pepper, and rice. More effective PRI will greatly increase production of these products. The project will improve PRI to enable optimal agricultural output, diversity, and production efficiency. This is also expected to allow quicker and safer access to markets, employment opportunities, and social services. Simultaneously, it will lower the costs of rural production and marketing, and reduce food wastage during transport and handling. PRI in good condition will increase incomes from on- and off-farm employment, lessen the work burden of women, and boost food availability. The project is pro-poor, will increase food security as well as land and water resource productivity, all of which strengthen climate change resilience.
The project advances three key NRD priorities: (i) to extend the coverage of PRI development to the CHPs; (ii) to improve PRI sustainability by concentrating investments in selected productive areas and using appropriate designs to enable sustainable management and boost climate change resilience; and (iii) to strengthen the capacity of stakeholders to sustainably develop, manage, operate, and use PRI.
The project has innovative technical and implementation features that highlight ADB's value addition to the sector. Four technical features that contribute to the ongoing policy dialogue on water resource management in general and irrigation sustainability in particular are: (i) strengthening of dams and reservoirs that are the backbone of irrigation systems in the CHPs but are now aging and likely to become increasingly unstable, especially given the predicted stresses associated with climate change it is anticipated that this initiative will lead to an expansion of future investments in reservoir stability; (ii) in conjunction with the dam and reservoir improvements, establishment of community-based danger warning systems; (iii) integration of soil and water conservation measures into PRI design through bioengineering techniques this will improve the environs in the subproject areas and the stability of PRI; and (iv) research and demonstration of approaches to better irrigation and water management in the CHPs, which will be essential for coping with more extreme weather.
The central government's SEDP for 2011- 2016, the NRD, and the NWRS prioritize upgrading PRI to serve the dual objective of social and economic development. This includes improving irrigation for rural water supply, double paddy cropping, and the expansion of irrigated areas for cash crops. It also includes developing rural transport infrastructure for the timely movement of agricultural inputs and surpluses as well as the improvement of social conditions. In Viet Nam it is demonstrated that the poor gain the most by better access. There are two ongoing ADB-supported PRI projects : Integrated Rural Development Sector Project in the Central Provinces and Sustainable Rural Infrastructure Development Project in Northern Mountain Provinces. Lessons were incorporated from these as well as six successfully completed, MARD-implemented, and ADB-supported PRI projects, particularly the Rural Infrastructure Sector Project. It builds upon the successful ADB-supported interventions in water and irrigation development and management, notably the Second Red River Basin Sector Project, which helped formulate Viet Nam''s law on water resources and train the irrigation and drainage management companies (IDMCs), and the Central Region Water Resources Project, which helped develop successful institutional models for IDMCs and water user organizations (WUOs). The project complements investments in poverty reduction being made in the CHP by the development partners.
The project design is based on (i) a recognized demand to rehabilitate and upgrade priority PRI to improve socioeconomic conditions in the CHPs; (ii) government and ADB strategies of providing PRI as a means to reduce poverty as described in the government's SEDP and NRD, as well as ADB's country partnership strategy; and (iii) the successful design, implementation experience, and lessons from related past and ongoing ADB-funded projects, in particular the need to (a) prescreen subprojects for prima facie viability with minimal safeguard issues; (b) limit the geographic coverage to obtain a good balance between capital investments and overhead costs, as well as contain implementation weaknesses at a manageable level; (c) confine activities to those that can be readily carried out within local capacities; (d) carefully prepare the procurement plan to optimize contract size, number, and methodology; and (e) take advance actions to ensure that competent counterpart project staff are assigned and trained, and prepare procurement packages to reduce implementation delays.