Work visit Viet Nam: possible expansion of Blue Dragon programme

In March, several Dutch experts from various water authorities once again visited Viet Nam for the Blue Dragon programme, as the Blue Deal partnership is known. An update on what they've been up to there.

GIS training

From March 11th to 13th, the first GIS training took place, which was a great success. Over 60 participants from all 12 provinces in the Mekong Delta attended. Hannes Versteegh led this training in collaboration with Can Tho University. The training will continue in May. The training is a project that was set up by the KIWI programme, the Dutch learning programme in which Versteegh is one of the participants.

Pilot nature-based solutions for dike reinforcement

Next, we visited a potential pilot project for dike reinforcement using nature-based solutions for a section of the dike heavily affected by river erosion. The dike is located in one of our partner provinces, Kien Giang. This province is also keen to take on this pilot. Currently, residents are using more or less makeshift constructions to prevent river erosion. We have been looking into local natural materials and vegetation to apply, as well as the possibility of involving the local population. For example, we are looking into using grasses or water hyacinth woven into mats to reinforce the riverbank. We then discussed with the province and Royal HaskoningDHV how we will jointly implement this pilot.

Final week of Asset Management, Maintenance & Operations training

From March 18 to 21, the final week of Asset Management, Maintenance & Operations training began with Robin de Bekker (from the Dutch water authority Drents Overijsselse Delta) and Marcel van Zutphen (from the Dutch water authority Vechtstromen). In addition to 20 participants from our 3 partner provinces, there were also 4 Dutch students attending who are currently undergoing a six-month internship at Can Tho University as part of their Water Management studies. On March 20, they visited a high-water protection sluice.

Further expansion of the partnership

During the same week, Birgitte de Kraker (from Dutch water authority De Dommel) and Tjeerd Dijkstra (from the Dutch water authority Vechtstromen) visited 3 new provinces to further expand the Blue Dragon Programme in the Mekong Delta. They also had discussions with current partners. The new provinces, An Giang, Vinh Long, and Soc Trang, are all enthusiastic about joining the Blue Dragon Programme. They have started the process of obtaining approval from the provincial People Committees.

Blue Dragon Viet Nam

The final work visit with training week on Resilient Cities and the Blue Dragon Day took place on November 10.

Presentation screen and person behind lecturere

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.

Work Visit to Blue Dragon Vietnam

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.

Meeting at the People Committee Can Tho

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.

Diplomatic relations

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.

Vice director DARD Can Tho (left) together with one of the Dutch members of the Blue Deal at the tree-planting event

Unified vision

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.

Several activities in Vietnam

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.

Young Expert

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.

Lecture: solutions for complex water problems

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.

Study: water management knowledge exchange

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.

Meeting room with people seated at tables for a traning session. One man is stood, giving a presentation.
Dutch Water Authorities and local partners attending a training session.

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.

More on Dutch Water Authorities and knowledge exchange

Blue Deal Annual plan 2021

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.

Two men inspecting a waste water treatment plant.

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.

Online learning

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.

More on the Blue Deal