The final work visit with training week on Resilient Cities and the Blue Dragon Day took place on November 10.
Training Week on resilient cities
The latest addition to the Blue Dragon programme is a new pool focusing on climate adaptation. In the inaugural week from 6 to 9 November, the pool concentrated on:
Explaining the importance of cooperation in climate-adaptive measures
Outlining the concept of climate adaptation
Describing the systematics of climate adaptation
Identifying the necessary data collection from a given area
The training was conducted by Mrs. Anet Lablans and Ms. Denise Winters both from water authority Hollands Noorderkwartier. The usual field trip during the week was spent in the city of Rach Gia. The participants were requested to photograph locations where flooding during heavy rainfall may occur.
The first Blue Dragon Day
In the morning of Friday 10th November at the meeting hall of the Research Laboratories Complex (RLC) Building, Can Tho University, the Blue Dragon Programme and Can Tho University organised the first Blue Dragon Day. This event, a highlight of the Blue Dragon Programme, revolves around the “Partnership for long-term assistance of Dutch Water Authorities in Mekong Delta Vietnam”.
We had the honor of welcoming distinguished delegates:
Mr. Willem Timmerman, First Secretary, The Netherlands Embassy in Vietnam
Mr. Vương Viết Hưng, Vice Director of Integrated Climate Resilience and Sustainable Livelihoods Mekong Delta Project Management Board, Central Project Office (CPO), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
Mr. Dang Ngoc Giao, Vice Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Hau Giang
Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Hai, Vice Rector of Can Tho University
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Van Pham Dang Tri, Director of DRAGON-Mekong Institute, Can Tho University
Other delegates were several lecturers and students of Can Tho University and representatives from Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Departments of Environment and Natural Resources, Departments of Construction, and Departments of Planning and Investment from provinces in the Mekong Delta.
The Delegates of Blue Dragon Day
The meeting provided a valuable opportunity for our partners to share their activities and experiences during Phase 1. Plans for Phase 2 were presented and discussed, including the expansion of the programme to other provinces in the Mekong Delta. Dynamic discussion sessions yielded valuable insights for Phase 2, and intent for cooperation was received from a new provinces of the Mekong Delta.
The second half of September marked another work visit for the Blue Dragon partnership in Vietnam. This included a training week and the strengthening of the ties with several partners.
The visit began with a training week for our partners’ staff on Flood Risk Management, conducted by experts from the Dutch water authorities of Hollands Noorderkwartier, Vallei en Veluwe, and an employee from Rijkswaterstaat (former Vallei en Veluwe employee). The focus was primarily on the importance of dike inspections and how to carry them out in practice. This was put into action during the field trip.
In addition, in the context of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and the Netherlands, a tree-planting event, supported by the Blue Dragon programme, was attended. The tree-planting event took place near Can Tho, one of our partners. Trees were planted on the banks of the Mekong River by attendees and students to combat erosion. The Vice-Chairman of the People Committee Can Tho and Consul General Daniel Stork of the consulate in Ho Chi Minh City were also present at the event.
Furthermore, the work visit was used for a meeting with the Dutch Embassy to ensure alignment and a unified vision of the Dutch government’s activities in Vietnam. The Dutch Embassy also assisted in a meeting with the Ministry of Construction.
Commitment for the coming years
We also held discussions with the People Committees of our partners to strengthen commitment to the programme for the coming years. It was evident that attending the Blue Deal Congress last June had a significantly positive impact on the commitment. Partners now have a better understanding of the entire Blue Deal, why the Netherlands is involved, what is happening in other partnerships, and the shared challenges.
Blue Deal broadcasted on Vietnamese TV
Lastly, it’s worth mentioning that, to our surprise, we made it to Vietnamese TV twice during this work visit! A news report was made in Kien Giang Province about the training we conducted there. And in Can Tho, the tree-planting event was covered on television.
Since the start of the Blue Deal partnership in Vietnam on June 10, 2022, there have been many activities. An update on the programme.
Official start in June
On June 10, after 2 years of absence, it was finally time: the official start of the Blue Dragon Program in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. In the presence of the directors of the Vietnamese partners, Hau Giang Province, Kien Giang Province and Can Tho City, Nettie Aarnink, member of the executive board of the Dutch water authority Vechtstromen, addressed the participants at the kick-off. In addition to these 3 partners, Can Tho University is an important partner for the Blue Deal. Nettie Aarnink signed a renewed Memorandum of Understanding with this university about cooperation in the coming years.
Training weeks and Dutch trade mission
Since June 10, 4 training weeks have already been carried out in Vietnam: 2 on asset management and 2 weeks on communication about awareness raising. In addition, Blue Dragon was a member of the Dutch Trade Mission to Vietnam from 28 to 30 November under the leadership of the Dutch Minister Liesje Schreinemacher of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation.
In the last 2 weeks of September, one of the local Vietnamese employees was in the Netherlands. She was selected to participate in the Young Expert Programme. During these first 2 weeks of the 2-year programme, all Young Experts of the Blue Deal partnerships came together in the Netherlands to meet and start a network.
The KIWI learning programme recently organised a lecture by professor Guy Alaerts about the unruly nature of international water management and solutions for complex water problems.
Water managers worldwide are looking for integrated solutions for complex water problems. Major investments are often required to become climate proof, but finding financing is difficult. Water managers and financial institutions do not know where to find each other and converting globally available financing into concrete projects on a large scale is difficult. Watch the lecture below. The lecture is in Dutch, but can be viewed with subtitles.
TU Delft and Erasmus University, in collaboration with Dutch Water Authorities, have launched a study into water management knowledge exchange. The universities are investigating which lessons the Dutch regional water authorities take abroad.
As part of the study into water management knowledge exchange university researchers are looking at the lessons learned at an individual level, group level and organisational level. The aim is to find out exactly what effect these lessons have on organisations.
A questionnaire is sent out via the Dutch Water Authorities foreign coordinators. It is hoped that insight can be gained into the possibilities and limiting factors of international knowledge sharing.
The 2021 annual plan of the Blue Deal programme has been approved by the steering committee. The partnerships will continue their work in 2021 to improve water management in 14 countries.
The focus of the Blue Deal Annual plan 2021 is on three crucial elements: sufficient knowledge and skills, a well-functioning organisation and collaboration with key stakeholders.
As COVID-19 continues into 2021, the Blue Deal partnerships focus on online learning and training in the first six months. This is not easy in all countries, for example due to slow internet connections or recently initiated partnerships. Therefore, the partnerships also focus on additional local representation. Dutch Water Authorities hopes to physically meet its partners again in the second half of 2021.