Modernization Framework for Irrigation in Vietnam
11:00 - 19/03/2018
In the development process of the country, many large, medium and small irrigation systems have been built in order to serve the agricultural development all over the country. In which, quantity of medium and large irrigation systems with commanded area over 200 ha is 904 systems, including 110 systems serving agricultural production area of more than 2,000 ha . Because they were built for a long time and lack of investment in infrastruct
In the context of the Master plan, initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), on restructuring the irrigation sector in order to improve the performance of irrigation management serving for restructuring the agricultural sector towards increasing added value and sustainable development, the approaches of irrigation management are also required changing to market orientation. The missions of irrigation systems are also required to be reviewed to develop strategic plan of irrigation modernization with the approach of service oriented management to enhance the operation efficiency of the irrigation system. Therefore, it is necessary to have a clear and appropriate guidance to help system managers developing strategic plan of irrigation modernization as a whole in the short and long term. This article refers to the development of an irrigation modernization framework for the irrigation sector in order to meet the above requirements.
Status of irrigation sector in Vietnam
In the development process of the country, many large, medium and small irrigation systems have been built in order to serve the agricultural development all over the country. In which, quantity of medium and large irrigation systems with commanded area over 200 ha is 904 systems, including 110 systems serving agricultural production area of more than 2,000 ha . Because they were built for a long time and lack of investment in infrastructure rehabilitation, performance of irrigation management is poor, many irrigation systems have not met the requirements of the agricultural diversity and modernity, the traditional management method is no longer consistent with the trend of modernization, ... most irrigation systems are deteriorated, causing waste of water resources and under-expected irrigation performance.
The assessment results of some irrigation systems  as shown in Figure 1 below shows the indicators of irrigation efficiency of almost systems are lower than 40% and on-farm irrigation efficiency is about 50% in average. It is also one of the reasons that the World Bank decided to finance the projects for improvement of the irrigation systems.
Figure 1: Irrigation efficiency in 8 irrigation systems of VIAIP project.
Source: Vietnam Academy for Water Resources, 2014
State policies for irrigation modernization
Beside the Master plan on restructuring agricultural sector of the Government, a number of projects / programs in irrigation development were also enacted to implement the Master plan on restructuring agricultural sector, namely:
- “National Program on restructuring the irrigation sector” was promulgated by the Decision No. 794/QD-BNN-TCTL dated 21 April, 2014 with the objective: “Improve the performance of irrigation management serving for restructuring the agricultural sector towards increasing added value and sustainable development; meet the development of the socio-economic sectors; improve capacity of disaster prevention and adaptation to climate change; contribute to the modernization of agricultural, rural infrastructure and new rural construction . Improvement of performance of irrigation management is at the forefront in the orientation of the Master plan, and one of the solutions for the implementation of this Master plan is initiated by reviewing the national irrigation planning with rapid assessment procedures RAP and MASSCOTE method, which are tools used in preparing strategic plan of irrigation modernization.
- "National Program on raising the efficiency of management and exploitation of irrigation works" promulgated in Decision No. 784 / QD-BNN-TCTL 21 April, 2014 with the objective of "Improving the efficiency of management of existing irrigation works, serving for restructuring the economy and the agricultural sector towards higher added-value and sustainable development ... ". One of these solutions is the duty adjustment of irrigation systems through assessment of irrigation systems by RAP / MASSCOTE
- “Training Program on Knowledge and Skill of Irrigation Exploitation Sector" was promulgated by the Decision No. 3874/QD-BNN-TCCB dated 11 September, 2014 with the objective: "Update, provide knowledge and basic skills in management and operation of irrigation systems, improve the performance of irrigation works, meet the requirements of irrigation management modernization, serving for restructuring agricultural sector, associated with building new rural" . The content of the training program also focuses on the dissemination of approaches, perspectives and knowledge on irrigation management modernization in irrigation management to improve management capacity of irrigation sector staff.
- Currently, the draft Strategy of irrigation sector  has been developed by the experts of the World Bank as proposed by the Government of Vietnam, in which the four highest priority aspects of the strategy are: (i) Apply both appropriate institutional reforms and strong capacity building; (ii) Renovate, modernize and develop the irrigation system; (iii) Transfer towards reliable irrigation service; and (iv) Significantly increase productivity and profit of water. The content of the strategy also suggests service- oriented management approach as well as issues of irrigation modernization used throughout the recommendations on implementation of strategy.
Since 2006, the concept of Irrigation Modernization (FAO, Bangkok, 1997) with the approach of Service-oriented management  was applied to the process of rehabilitation and improvement of a number of irrigation systems in Vietnam through the Vietnam Water Resources Assistance Project (VWRAP) funded by the World Bank  initially set up the foundation for the irrigation modernization in Vietnam. From the results achieved as well as the lessons learned during the implementation of the irrigation modernization in the VWRAP , the rapid assessment procedures RAP and MASSCOTE method to support preparing strategic plan on irrigation modernization system was recommended in the Master plan on restructuring the irrigation sector and has been applied in a number of irrigation systems in Vietnam.
The master plans/programs on irrigation development gave the base, platform and orientation for development of irrigation sector in Vietnam towards modernization. A number of activities have been initiated, such as the use of RAP/MASSCOTE to review tasks and planning irrigation modernization for 5 years and every year, training on irrigation managers towards modernization with focus on using RAP / MASSCOTE...
RAP / MASSCOTE have very clear and detailed instructions on the aspects of assessing service of irrigation systems. However, the strategic plan of irrigation modernization has not been detailed while the requirements of the sector development through the projects required more popular applications of RAP / MASSCOTE to help related agencies, especially irrigation system managers to develop strategic plan of irrigation modernization in comprehensive and more detailed way. Therefore, the development of an Irrigation Modernization Framework is proposed with detailed and clear instructions, referring to: (i) The responsibilities and the relationship of irrigation management levels; and (ii) The aspects related to irrigation management, such as water management, institutional, technical, and monitoring and evaluation ... will help to develop and implement effectively strategic plan of irrigation modernization.
PROPOSAL FOR DEVELOPING IRRIGATION MODERNIZATION FRAMEWORK
An Irrigation Modernization Framework is developed basing on service-oriented management approach as well as modernization orientation mentioned in the Water Resources Sector Strategy with the following contents: (i) Assess the current performance of irrigation systems; (ii) Develop a strategic plan of modernization; and (iii) Monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the plan ... will enable the preparation, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of development plans, irrigation modernization in efficient way. Besides, the implementation steps should also specify the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders in the development and implementation of Modernization plan . Figure 2 below describes the contents to develop an Irrigation Modernization Framework.
Figure 2: Contents in Development of Irrigation Modernization Framework
Source: Vu Hai Nam, 2016
Assessment of performance of irrigation system
Modernization is a process of improving the management and infrastructure to meet water distribution services to end users. Therefore, assessment of performance of irrigation system will include an assessment of (i) Quality of service provided by irrigation systems; and (ii) Performance of irrigation infrastructure as well as management from the system to the field level. Currently, RAP/MASSCOTE is used to evaluate performance of some irrigation systems with commanded area more than 2000 hectares all over the country.
Development of strategic plan on irrigation modernization
In this step, it is necessary to build the vision for the irrigation system with specific goals to be achieved to meet the requirements of socio-economic development of specific local and agricultural development. Besides, the goals of the irrigation systems also need to achieve the required orientation and development of the sector.
Then, a strategic plan of irrigation system modernization is built based on the goals and requirements of rehabilitation/improvement, with focuses on three specific contents: (i) Improve policies in irrigation management; (ii) Modernize the management of the system operation; and (iii) Improve infrastructure in accordance with the irrigation modernization orientation. The strategic plan of irrigation modernization should also specify the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders including: (i) State management agencies at the central level and local level; (ii) Irrigation system management units; (iii) Consultants; (iv) On-farm irrigation management units; and (v) People/end water users ... on the contents of the strategic plan of irrigation modernization. The strategic plan should also clearly demonstrate the activities of short-term and long-term in the roadmap of irrigation modernization to provide reasonable and explicit contents for the implementation of the strategic plan.
The implementation of the strategic plan of irrigation modernization will need mobilization and rational use of human resources, finance ... in accordance with the predefined work content. The contents which can be done by internal resources should be prioritized; the contents which cannot be done by internal resources should be called for support of other stakeholders such as governments, State management agencies...
Monitoring and evaluation – Amendment
The monitoring and evaluation (M&E) should be carried out regularly during the implementation of the strategic plan on irrigation modernization with the aims: (i) Ensure the plan is implemented in accordance with the pre-defined roadmap; and (ii) Promptly amend goals as well as the problems to improve the strategic plan on irrigation modernization to fit the general context. During this period, the M&E system should be developed and used for the implementation of the strategic plan on irrigation modernization; or development and application of Benchmarking system; or application of rapid assessment procedures RAP and MASSCOTE method to assess the performance of irrigation system after a period and consider the level of rehabilitation/improvement to meet requirements of service.
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION
Irrigation modernization is now a major problem in the implementation of Master plan on restructuring irrigation sector. Thus the results of the research on irrigation modernization framework is consistent with the requirement and orientation of the sector and it will help the irrigation manager to set up and implement comprehensively a strategic plan on irrigation system modernization. On the other hand, it also enables the State-owned irrigation management agencies to be more convenient in developing plan of rehabilitation, improvement, and modernization of irrigation systems to meet the requirements of sector development and socio-economic development plan of the country.
In order to disseminate and implement the irrigation modernization framework to enhance the performance of the irrigation system, the next necessary activities are: (i) Submit to MARD to promulgate the irrigation modernization framework to the IMC as a base for planning irrigation modernization toward service-oriented management approach in short-term and long-term; and (ii) Develop the guidance with the tools and training for the IMC and State-owned irrigation management agencies at provincial level on development of irrigation modernization framework.
- Central Project Office, MARD (2013), “Feasibility Study Report on Vietnam Irrigated Agriculture Improvement Project – VIAIP”, Vietnam.
- Central Project Office, MARD (2013), “Project Completion Report on Vietnam Water Resources Assistant Project – VWRAP”, Vietnam.
- Daniel Renault, Therry Facon and Robina Hahaj (2007), “FAO Irrigation & Drainage Paper 63 “Modernizing Irrigation Management - The MASSCOTE approach”, Rome, Italy.
- MARD (2014), “National Program of Improving the Performance of Existing Irrigation and Drainage Systems”, Hanoi, Vietnam.
- MARD (2014), “National Program of Restructuring the Irrigation Sector”, Hanoi, Vietnam.
- MARD (2014), “Training Program on Knowledge and Skill of Irrigation Exploitation Sector”, Hanoi, Vietnam
- Nguyen Tung Phong (2011), “Modernization of Irrigation System Management”, Science and Technique Publishing, Vietnam.
- Vu Hai Nam (2016), “Research on the Irrigation Management Modernization Frame in Red River Delta, Vietnam”, Hanoi, Vietnam.
- WB (2016), “Strategy of Vietnam Water Resources”, Hanoi, Vietnam.