Integrated Water Resource Management in Mekong Delta: from scientific to awareness raising approach

The one-day workshop was held in Can Tho on November-03, 2016 with the participation of 40 participants from NAWAPI, the GIZ, the Departments of Natural Resources and Environment in Mekong Delta Provinces, universities and social organizations. The aim of the workshop was to share information and experiences in water resources management and communication in the Mekong Delta. The workshop was focused on good examples for raising awareness for the protection of water resources, especially of groundwater. Work groups developed some ideas about strengthening existing networks, such as the Water Resource Education Network in Vietnam, WENVN, and multiply good communication experiences.

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Mrs. Dorit Lehrack explaining the scientific basic of awareness raising

Presentations tackled topics such as understanding the need for effective communication as basic tool for behavior changes, moving away from one-day campaigns with little impact to more a continuous approaches based on PRA (participatory rural appraisal) and PAR (participatory action research) methods. Here the GIZ offered experiences in Mangrove forest protection with participation of the concerned villages. A presentation highlighted the connection between IWRM and comprehensive cooperation and communication needs between Provinces, Regions, authorities and communities. Representatives of the DONRE requested stronger support for their own capacity building from IGPVN project and promised to share the newly learnt methods and instruments later with neighbor Provinces. The lawmaker was asked to make laws in a way that people understand and enforce them. Laws should clearly support the benefits of environmental and resource protection to mobilize country-wide acceptance.

Prof. Thien, an independent expert on ecological system in Mekong Delta, pointed out that inappropriate awareness, also from decision-makers, may lead to mal-adapted actions that require big investments without showing the desired results. Some of them are irreversible and may damage finally more than they benefit. Here careful research and a shift to non-regret measures, wherever possible, is the better way.

Some small scale and low-budget but efficient methods for protecting groundwater such collecting rain water for artificial recharge got high interest of the participants. The successful application of these methods needs the cooperation of the households based on raised awareness for the benefits.

In the afternoon, two student teams that had successfully participated in the University Contest “Protect Groundwater – our hidden treasure”, which was initiated by our project, presented the results of their creative communication strategies to the audience. Whilst one student team developed a tailor-shaped communication method using IT for different target groups, the second group investigated groundwater vulnerability using DRASTIC method and involved the community in developing measures for a better protection.

In the following workgroup session, students and the audience discussed how these low-budget and high-effective measures could be made better-known and multiplied.

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Group working at the IWRM WS Can Tho 3/11/2016

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Group working at the IWRM WS in Can Tho 3/11/2016

In the last wrap-up round all participants emphasized a big need for continuing both the training and the exchange on the important topic of getting the people involved in effective use and protection of water by effective awareness raising approaches. For future workshops on the topic of IWRM the audience asked for more discussion space and emphasized the need to discuss non-regret measures such as rain-water collection for groundwater research under active, careful and informed participation of the households involved.

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