Assessing Decentralised Policy Implementation in Vietnam: The case of land recovery and resettlement in the Vung Ang Economic Zone

Joop de Wit, Viet Sang Luong, Van Chien Le, Thu Hien Luong, Viet Hung Ha, Thiu Anh Tuyet Dang, Ngoc Bau Dao, Hoa Quang, Thi Thanh Tam Mai

Research output: Working paperAcademic


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
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationThe Hague
PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies (ISS)
Number of pages55
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

Publication series

SeriesISS working papers. General series

Bibliographical note


  • ISS Working Paper-General Series


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing Decentralised Policy Implementation in Vietnam: The case of land recovery and resettlement in the Vung Ang Economic Zone'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this