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Perspectives on Water Management in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta
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1  ICIS - Maastricht University, The Netherlands

Abstract: Perspectives on a water system and its management determine how problems are defined and which types of solutions are preferred. When developing strategies, it is therefore important to understand different perspectives that exist amongst actors. Additionally, perspectives may change over time. This implies that the dynamics of perspectives need to be considered to be able to meet the demands of the future. Building on Offermans (2012), we study perspectives in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta as a first step towards developing more sustainable water management strategies in this region. To gain insight in the perspectives, we studied the history of water management in Vietnam and conducted a survey amongst 55 government officials, farmers and students. Results show that water management focus has during colonial period mainly been on flood and salinity control and during liberated period on irrigation systems, both to increase food production. However, the transition from a colonial to a liberated regime and the destruction of water structures during the war, caused difficulties in developing a coherent water system today. The survey revealed stakeholders\' preferences with hierarchical approaches. This holds particularly for government officials and farmers. Only students consider more egalitarian approaches. The reason is the long history of highly centralized management and the dominance of technocratic ideology with both the government and the international donors. However, for developing sustainable strategies that increase the systems\' resilience, considering a broader range of approaches would be advisable. The study finalizes with an outlook of the applicability of a Dutch perspective-based game to the Vietnamese situation. Major challenges lie in the assumed openness to share perspectives and equality amongst players that enable negotiation processes. Reference: Offermans, A.G.E. (2012). The Perspectives Method; towards socially robust river management. Maastricht: Datawyse university press
Keywords: Perspectives, Water Management, Mekong, Vietnam