Institutional challenges for peri-urban water supply in Can Tho, Vietnam
The lack of a secure and clean potable water supply in peri-urban areas is a major source of vulnerability for poor residents on the periphery of rapidly expanding cities in South East Asia. Climate change will increase the demand for clean drinking water, while adversely affecting supply and creating additional water stress in these areas.
This study examines the provision of water to peri-urban residents in the rapidly growing city of Can Tho, in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, which will be heavily affected by climate change. We focus on the institutional structure of water supply, and its relationship to quality and the reliability of the service received by residents. Can Tho’s boundaries include an area of over 1,000 km2, much of which remains agricultural land. About two-thirds of the city’s population is located in the built-up urban area, but this population is growing rapidly with migration from surrounding provinces and the rural parts of the city.
Water supply is provided in rural areas by the Centre for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, a local government agency, and in the city’s urban areas by the Water Supply Company, a city-owned corporation. The two organisations operate in different concession areas, under the oversight of different levels of government, using different tariffs, and they provide water to different quality standards using very different technologies. There are no effective mechanisms for administrative or planning collaboration.
This paper describes the institutional factors that led to these differences, and explains how they operate as barriers to the expansion of the urban water supply system in the rapidly growing peri-urban areas of Can Tho. We suggest measures to overcome these barriers and simplify the expansion of urban water supply for the benefit of peri-urban residents.