Poverty Impact of Public Irrigation Expenditure

Project Result / Case Study | 31 May 2004

This Pilot and Demonstration Activities (PDA) showed how effective public irrigation expenditures—such as infrastructures and systems—are increasing the income of Viet Nam's rural poor.


Project site Ho Chi Minh City, Tay Ninh, Quang, Cam Son, and Song Chu, Viet Nam
Cost US$ 50,000
Status Completed
Approval date 2002
Completion date May 2004
Category Rural
ADB officer Pieter Smidt
Partner -

Report card

Completed in May 2004, this PDA

  • Provided valuable inputs for planners and decision makers in developing the country’s irrigation sector action plan
  • Demonstrated successful partnership between funding institutions—ADB and the World Bank partnered in this research project
  • Attested the effectiveness of rehabilitating existing irrigation systems in reducing poverty

Read the final report.


Eighty-percent of Viet Nam's population lives in rural areas, and 70% of the labor force depends on agriculture. The primary expenditure instrument used by the government to improve rural incomes has been subsidized irrigation investments. Irrigation accounts for about half of all public expenditures in the agricultural sector, and three-quarters of all capital investments (about $250 million per year).

Rice is the major irrigated crop in Viet Nam. Rice production in the country has soared from 20 million tons in 1990 to over 30 million tons by the end of the decade. Agricultural liberalization has clearly been a driving force in this expansion. However, the impact of irrigation investments, which have more than doubled during the 1990s, is less clear. A study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in 2000 concluded that there is a weak relationship between agricultural output and public expenditures in the provinces. This PDA is a study on how effective public irrigation expenditures are in increasing rural incomes, particularly for the poor.

Expected outcomes

Quantitative and qualitative findings on the irrigation infrastructure and management systems from the following towns: Ho Chi Minh City, Tay Ninh, Quang, Cam Son and Song Chu.

These findings will test the following hypotheses:

  • There will be a statistically significant difference in farmer incomes between Ho Chi Minh City and Tay Ninh that can be attributed primarily to better provincial management
  • There will be a statistically significant difference between the rehabilitated and non-rehabilitated irrigation systems in Quang Nam
  • There will be a statistically significant difference in Song Chu between the rehabilitated areas with technical assistance, and those without
  • There will be differences between head-enders and tail-enders in all data sets, with the most pronounced difference being in Cam Son