Raising awareness and capacity for a long-term development vision of the Mekong Delta

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in collaboration with IUCN Viet Nam and Can Tho University just launched a project titled “Development and implementation of a communication and information dissemination strategy for the principles and recommendations in the Mekong Delta Plan” in Can Tho. The awareness raising campaign for the long-term development vision of the Mekong Delta is a part of the Strategic Partnership Arrangement on Climate Change Adaptation and Water Management between the Government of Viet Nam and the Netherlands, and funded by the Netherlands through the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

This project contains a comprehensive communication strategy to disseminate the principles of the Mekong Delta Plan (MDP) to the 13 provinces of the Mekong Delta. With the message “The future of the Delta is in our hands”, the communication strategy aims to provide guidance for the implementation of the communication campaigns, including a training of trainers (ToT) program and training workshops involving the 13 provinces of the Mekong Delta.

Over the last few decades, the Mekong Delta has played an important role in the economic development of Viet Nam. However, the impact of climate change, mal-development and overexploitation of its natural resources are seriously threatening the future of the Mekong Delta.

The Government of Viet Nam as well as international community have been developing various strategies and programmes to adapt and mitigate climate change’s impact, of which the MDP has been a key initiative. Written in 2013 within the framework agreement between the government of The Netherlands and Vietnam, it has become a key reference document and source of guidance for the government. The MDP contains recommended principles for sustainable development taking into account both economic prospects and environmental considerations including climate change.

The MDP so far has been endorsed by high-level leaders of the Government of Viet Nam, donors as well as Implementing Partners. Yet, today, there is limited exposure and understanding of the principles and recommendations of the MDP at lower levels of government and in the community. The understanding as well as endorsement of the grassroots for these principles will leverage the impact of the MDP on the development of the Mekong Delta. Therefore, it is critical to enhance awareness among the grassroots level which are identified as (i) civil servants at the provincial and district levels, and (ii) farmers.

The project is led by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and endorsed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Ministry of Planning and Investment. The project’s implementing partners are made up of a consortium including UNESCO-IHE (Lead), Can Tho University, IUCN Vietnam, Water.NL, Fresh Studio Viet Nam Farmers’ Union, Royal Haskoning DHV, Wageningen University, and KnowH2O.

What is the Mekong Delta Plan (MDP)?

A vulnerable future of a vulnerable delta

The Mekong Delta plays a significant role in Vietnam, both economically and environmentally. It consists of 13 provinces covering an area of 3.9 million ha and is home to 17 million people or - 20% of the Vietnamese population - and contributes 18% to the national GDP (Government Statistics Office, 2012). However, the future of the delta is threatened by climate change and economic development. The Mekong Delta is ranked among the top five deltas that are most severely affected by climate change in the world.

A reference document for policy making

To adapt to the challenges caused by climate change requires a change in current practices. The Mekong Delta Plan, written in 2013 within the framework of cooperation between the government of The Netherlands and Vietnam, is a reference document recommending principles for sustainable development that take into account both economic prospects and environmental considerations.