From 2006 plans were implemented to create a deep-sea water port linked to an Economic Zone in the coastal Province of Ha Tinh, located in north central Vietnam. The multi-purpose Zone entitled ‘Vung Ang’, was to attract foreign investors, while the port would provide a link to nearby Laos and Thailand. The project obviously had large implications for the administrations at various levels of governance from Hanoi to the coastal communes and villages, but even more serious impacts on the people living in the affected areas. A large area of about 23,000 hectares was to be cleared, affecting the people of 9 communes, in some of which all inhabitants had to leave their houses and homesteads, to be relocated to completely new settlements about 10 miles inland. These tightly knit communities were not too happy with the prospect to leave their homes and land, the burial places of their ancestors, and the long term comforts of community support networks. While initial decision making process started at the highest levels of Vietnam Governance, the implementation of port and industrial park construction and the related relocation policy was delegated to Ha Tinh province, which is consistent with current decentralisation policies in Vietnam. Actual implementation was carried out by the affected District and Commune level officials – with support from the Communist Party led Mass Organisations – who were in charge of the planning and implementation of the relocation process. This entailed a complex and sensitive series of steps to inform affected households, prepare relocation areas and allocate compensation and alternative housing. This paper describes the implementation dynamics of relocation by depicting and assessing the roles of all stakeholders involved, including the impacts - for better or for worse – of the relocated households. It brings out the way local authorities dealt with affected people, including efforts linked to the ideal of grass-roots democracy. Key areas of contestation are uncovered, such as inadequate infrastructure and low compensation rates. The paper has a second objective to assess the degree to which decentralisation in Vietnam has been actually implemented, and how this affects policy making processes such as the Vung Ang port/industrial zone project. The paper concludes that the relocation policy was implemented in a fairly efficient and harmonious way – with a very intensive engagement of the entire provincial administrative machinery, but that it is too early to assess the livelihood opportunities of the relocated households.

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Erasmus University Rotterdam
ISS Working Papers - General Series
ISS Working Paper Series / General Series
International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University (ISS)

de Wit, J., Viet Sang, L., Van Chien, L., Thu Hien, L., Viet Hung, H., Thi Anh Tuyet, D., … Thi Thanh Tam, M. (2012). Assessing decentralised policy implementation in Vietnam : The case of land recovery and resettlement in the Vung Ang Economic Zone (No. 546). ISS Working Paper Series / General Series (Vol. 546, pp. 1–55). Retrieved from