Insights on strategic delta planning in Bangladesh, Vietnam and the Netherlands

Written by Chris Seijger, on 12 May 2017

Strategic delta planning is a planning approach to come to more sustainable deltas. During such a planning process a vision is developed – the strategic delta plan – and actions and means for implementation are initiated. Four researchers are studying the dynamics of these strategic delta planning processes. Here is an update of their recent activities.

A productive stay in the Netherlands

Over the past months Ms. Vo Thi Minh Hoang  (Wageningen University) completed all courses required for her PhD training. She has made good progress with her first article that explores the agenda set by the Mekong Delta Plan, and how this new agenda fits with existing agendas of governmental agencies.

In addition, Hoang is outlining the second and third paper, to come to a clear plan for data collection during her 4 month field trip in the Mekong Delta (July-October 2017). Hoang travelled to the Dutch Southwest Delta as she pitched the Strategic Delta Planning project during a Dynamic Deltas Conference in Zeeland. 

Presenting reseach findings in Dhaka and Delft

Ms. Shahnoor Hasan (IHE Delft) presented her research in Dhaka during the International Conference on Water and Flood Management 2017. She discussed the role of Participatory Scenario Development tool in the formulation of the Mekong Delta Plan (2013). Using Actor Network theories, she talked about how the tool helped negotiate alliances, mobilize political support and future funds for the Mekong Delta Plan.

In Delft Shahnoor was invited to talk on “Water and delta: shared vision of Bangladesh and the Netherlands” in the 60th Anniversary Conference of IHE Delft Institute for Water Education. She shared observations that Dutch delta planning expertise travels merely one-way to Bangladesh and Vietnam. She mentioned the need for mutual learning when this Dutch knowledge expertise is adapted, instead of replication, to the local context.  

A local perspective on implementing strategic delta plans in Vietnam

Dorien Korbee (TU Delft) travelled to Vietnam to conduct fieldwork on implementation and actor coalitions. Together with Ms Ha and Mr. Quan from WACC, she interviewed local government officials and held discussion groups with farmers in Ben Tre province. The interviews and discussions provided insights on the implementation feasibility of the Mekong Delta Plan in a local setting. By interviewing the farmers, a better understanding was obtained on adaptation possibilities of the farmers in Ben Tre province.

Soft implementation of strategic delta plans

Mr. Chris Seijger (IHE Delft) completed a full draft on soft implementation of strategic delta plans. A focus on soft implementation is needed as strategic delta plans cannot be literally implemented. Plans are the result of a political negotiation process, are made for the entire delta and will be renegotiated at smaller local scales.

Chris introduces 4 features to assess ‘soft’ features of implementation: offering prospectives for change, changing mental models, consent, influencing actions and decisions. Planners can use the 4 implementation features to assess the impact of strategic delta plans on process and content criteria. 

The paper concludes that the Mekong Delta Plan has been mostly influential in introducing new ways of thinking on both delta problems and transformative strategies for an agro-business development. Minds have been changing at all levels in the planning system. The paper will be soon submitted for peer-review and is co-authored by project partners from IUCN, Wageningen University and IHE Delft.

Read more on the Strategic Delta Planning website