Australian Embassy


DATE: 21 August 2009
SUBJECT: Aid Activities

Australian Ambassador sees potential in Mekong Delta for Development Cooperation

The Australian Ambassador, Mr Allaster Cox, will visit the Mekong Delta provinces of Dong Thap, Vinh Long, Tien Giang, Hau Giang, Can Tho, Kien Giang and Ca Mau from 23 to 29 August 2009. During the trip, the Ambassador will visit project sites funded by the Australian Aid Program and hold high-level discussions with Provincial People Committees on future development priorities.

The Ambassador will visit Dong Thap province to inspect and discuss the proposed site for a new bridge in Cao Lanh. It is expected that the bridge will increase road transport efficiency and safety across the Mekong Delta and bring significant benefits to rural and farming populations by improving their access to markets. The Ambassador will also see the My Thuan bridge linking the provinces of Tien Giang and Vinh Long.

“The My Thuan bridge, built with Australian support between 1996-2000, is a lasting symbol of the close and enduring relationship between Australia and Vietnam. Australia, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and Vietnam are currently undertaking a study to determine the economic and technical feasibility of another bridge in Cao Lanh across the Tien River.”

While in Dong Thap, the Ambassador will also visit a community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) project managed by Oxfam. “I am happy to announce that Australia will be providing an additional $380,000 for Oxfam to incorporate the participatory processes and evidence-based models they have developed into a new Government of Vietnam program, which aims to roll-out CBDRM to 6000 communes by 2020. I congratulate the Government of Vietnam in its initiative on proposing this new program, which represents an exceptional opportunity to build community resilience to natural disasters and save lives and property amongst the poorest areas in Vietnam.”

The Ambassador will travel to Sa Dec to inspect a recently opened Water Treatment Plant, built with Australian support and technology, and visit some households and schools benefiting from small-scale sanitation credit programs.

“Helping people have access to clean water and sanitation is a strategic priority for the Australian aid program in Vietnam. Australia has provided around $50 million to the Three Delta Towns project, managed by GHD. This project has provided around 282,000 residents of Sa Dec, Ha Tien and Bac Lieu with improved water supply, reduced flooding risks and enhanced environmental sanitation facilities and practices. This has increased the coverage to around 90 per cent in the target areas and has reduced water related health problems by around 70 per cent.”

In Can Tho and Hau Giang provinces, the Ambassador will tour the laboratory of Can Tho University to have an insight into research activities related to aquaculture feed and disease and visit a field site of research on efficient nutrient use in rice production using inoculant biofertilisers. These projects are funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR). The Ambassador will also be having discussions with Can Tho University’s management board on cooperation in agricultural research and climate change activities in the Mekong Delta.

“Climate change is an important priority for both the Government of Australia and the Government of Vietnam. Together with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Australia plans to host a forum on climate change adaptation in the Mekong in October 2009. The Mekong Delta area is listed as one of the most severely affected areas in the world to be impacted by climate change. This forum, to be hosted in Can Tho, will bring together all 13 provinces of the Mekong Delta to discuss the potential effects and responses to climate change with central level agencies, other donors, key research institutes, and NGOs.”

Together with the German Embassy, the Ambassador will travel to Kien Giang to review progress under the joint Australia-German Development Cooperation project on Conservation and Development in Kien Giang. This project has achieved good progress in demonstrating sustainable forest and coastal management, identifying opportunities for livelihoods for local populations, raising awareness on climate change, biodiversity and waste disposal issues, and building capacity and technical expertise.

“The natural resource management project in Kien Giang has been a successful model of cooperation between Australia, Germany and Vietnam. We are keen to build on the early achievements of this project and expand our support to cover the entire south west region of the Mekong Delta.”

In Ca Mau, the Ambassador will visit a poor village benefiting from a water and sanitation project managed by CARE.

“The Australian aid program is providing around $5 million for this project, which aims to build the capacity of water and sanitation service providers to respond to user demand and community needs, demonstrate improved hygiene and sanitation in target communities, and enhance inter-agency and project coordination. There are many lessons learned and much experience in this project that can be applied nationally through the National Target Program on Rural Water Supply on Sanitation, to which Australia is providing around $50 million.”