Scaling up rural sanitation in Vietnam: political economy constraints and opportunities

Working and discussion papers
January 2012
Daniel Harris, Michelle Kooy and Pham Quang Nam

This Working Paper presents findings from an analysis of the governance and political economy of water and sanitation service delivery in Vietnam. The objective of the research is to develop the utility of political economy analysis (PEA) for the water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector, with a focus on improving the operational impact of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) (and other donor) country programming.

While the objective of the case study is therefore to inform the development of DFID’s approach to sector-level political economy analysis, the paper and the research that underpins the paper have been undertaken with the primary goal of working with the staff of the DFID-Vietnam country office to think through the implications of a problem-driven political economy analysis approach for addressing the issues encountered in their work.

Extensive consultation with the DFID-Vietnam country office resulted in the conclusion that one of the main conundrums faced by DFID staff working on issues of WSS is the simultaneous presence of persistently disappointing outcomes in the rural sanitation subsector under the current policy paradigm and the limited uptake at scale of a number of seemingly effective ‘innovative approaches’ that have been piloted with donor support. This puzzle is particularly salient given the country’s overall development achievements and specifically given achievements within the sector in increasing access to urban sanitation and rural and urban water supply.