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  • Environment and poverty linkages in the Cau river

Socio-Economic Development Centre, May 2005
The main stream of Cau river has length of 288 km
and basin area of 6030 km2. 68 streams have
length of more than 10km. The sub-streams has
total length of 1332 km and basin area of 3535
km2. Total water flow of the river reaches 4200
km3 in a year. The Cau river is water source for
3,5 mil. People in the basin and 5 mil. in the
affected region. The Cau river is a location of
traditional culture.
  • The Cau river basin comprises 23 districts
    and 5 cities and provincial towns belonging to
    six provinces
  • Bac Can 3 districts, 1 town
  • Thai Nguyen 7 districts, 1 city, 1 town
  • Vinh Phuc 5 districts, 1 town
  • Bac Giang 3 districts
  • Bac Ninh 3 districts, 1 town
  • Ha Noi 2 districts
  • Hai Duong province belongs to the Thai Binh
    river basin, but is affected directly by the Cau
    river water.

The related studies and documents
  • Some studies on land use and environment of Bac
    Can, Thai Nguyen, Vinh Phuc.
  • Environmental assessment in provinces of the Cau
    river basin.
  • Strategies of socio-economic development of the
    Northeastern region and Master plans of
  • 26/11/1997 Peoples Committee of 6 provinces
    proposed to design Master plan for environment
    protection and exploitation of the Cau river
    basin. 25/8/1998, PM approved this proposal.
  • The master plan has been designed, discussed and
    revised several times. The latest version has
    been completed in 1/2005.

Master plan of the Cau river basin (1)
  • Objectives
  • Long-term objectives (to the year 2030)
  • To ensure sufficiency and balance of water in Cau
    river and its branches to ensure that the river
    and its branches are not polluted, have good
    landscape, mild climate, safe and sustainable
    water constructions and flow systems. The Cau
    river basin should meet the standard of a
    prosperous and sustainable development, without
  • To create equality and reasonability of use of
    basins resources for all users. To combine
    benefits of resource use with responsibilities of
    river basins environment protection.

Master plan of the Cau river basin (2)
  • The main programs and projects of high
    priorities (to 2015)
  • Program 1 Mitigating and preventing
    environmental pollution resulting from
    production, service and business.
  • Program 2 Preventing degradation of water
    sources, improving water balance and soil
  • Program 3 Improving the seriously polluted
    regions and river parts, the hot points of
    environmental pollution gradually recovering Cau
  • Program 4 Improving environment management of
    the river basin and increasing awareness and
    involving wide participation of population in
    environment protection.

Objectives of this study
  • To improve the action plan of the Cau river
    environmental program by prioritising environment
    rehabilitation investments that have high
    positive impact in terms of poverty reduction.
  • To provide information on poverty-environment
    linkages for incorporation into upcoming
    environmental awareness activities.

Research approach Sustainable development
Research contents (1)
  • 1. Reviewing the overall picture of
    socio-economic development and environment
    changes in the basin in last 10 years.
  • (i) What are the special characteristics of
    development in the basin and the most actual
    problems the basin faces?
  • (ii) What has been done for solving the
  • 2. Understanding poverty in the Cau river basin
    (upstream and downstream areas).
  • (i) How is the poverty in the Cau River
  • (ii) How different is the poverty in
    upstream and downstream regions?

Research contents (2)
  • 3. Analysing consequences of the environment
    degradation caused by human activities under the
    pressure of poverty.
  • (i) How the natural resources and environment
    are affected by human activities?
  • (ii) How the environment degradation impacts
    on living and poverty in the upstream and
    downstream regions?
  • 4. Recommendations to investment policies and
    basin management.

Research methodology
  • Literature and data review.
  • Quantitative study interview with
    semi-structured questionnaire to 600 households
    in upstream and downstream areas (100 hhs x 6
    communes), including
  • 1 commune in Cho Don district,
  • 2 communes in Cho Moi district,
  • 1 commune in Que Vo district,
  • 2 communes in Yen Phong district.
  • Qualitative study in-dept interview of district,
    commune officials, 40 hhs in 4 communes group
    discussions of the poor, poor women, etc.

Sites of case study
Research output
  • Report including 6 main parts
  • 1. Introduction.
  • 2. Research methodology.
  • 3. Overview of the socio-economic development and
    environment status in the Cau river basin.
  • 4. Poverty in the Cau river basin.
  • 5. Influences of poverty on environment and
    impacts of environmental degradation on
    populations life.
  • 6. Research findings and recommendations.

Economic growth in the Cau river basin
  • Economic profiles of provinces in the Cau
    river basin are diversified
  • Mineral exploitation and forestry concentrate
    in Bac Can and Thai Nguyen provinces
  • Thai Nguyen is also a centre of metallurgy
    and machanical industries.
  • A big number of craft villages is available
    in Bac Ninh and Bac Giang provinces.
  • Hai Duong has cement factories,
    thermoelectric power plants, food and foodstuft
    processing industry. Ceramics, garment, etc.
  • Agricultural production has high level of
    intencification in the whole basin, especially in
    downstream area.

Economic growth
  • The seven provinces recorded a quicker economic
    growth rate (averaging 2.23 times) compared to
    that of the whole country in the 1995-2003 period
    (1.72 times).
  • Especially, Vinh Phuc and Bac Ninh provinces
    posted a growth rate quicker than the average
    rate of the seven provinces.
  • Bac Can, Hai Duong and Ha Noi had a growth rate
    approximate to that of the seven provinces.
  • Thai Nguyen and Bac Giang recorded a slower
    growth rate, but was also approximately equal to
    the general growth level of the country.

Growth of sectors
  • Industries and construction contribute most to
    the growth rate. Those provinces that had a quick
    growth in this sector chalked up a higher growth
  • Vinh Phuc provinces growth rate is 11.8 times.
    Bac Can recorded a rather great growth rate - 6.6
    times, while Ha Noi posted a little higher growth
    rate and Bac Ninhs growth rate is approximately
    equal to the growth rate of 7 provinces.
  • Growth rate of Thai Nguyen, Bac Giang and Hai
    Duong was only equal to half of the average
    growth level of 7 provinces and equal to growth
    level of the whole country.

Economic structure
  • The economic structure has changed
    dramatically. However agro-forestry production
    still dominates in economy of the basin.
  • The rapid industrial growth rates of Vinh Phu
    and Bac Ninh have fundamentally changed the GDP
    structure. Agriculture and forestry, from being
    the pivotal sectors in the economy, accounting
    for over 50 of GDP, have now dropped to under
    30. In the meantime, industries and construction
    have soared to nearly 45 from under 20 of GDP.

GDP per capita
  • Ranking provinces by per capita GDP, there
    are 3 groups
  • (1) Ha Noi (with 3rd rank among 64 provinces) has
    the highest income level (8,8 mill. VND/year)
  • (2) Hai Duong, Vinh Phuc Bac Ninh have a middle
    level of income (3,8-4 mill. VND/year)
  • (3) Thai Nguyen, Bac Giang, Bac Can are poor
    provinces (2-3 mill. VND/year).

Poverty in provinces of the Cau river basin
  • Thanks to the quick economic growth, the
    poverty reduction process has brought about
    satisfactory results.
  • Bac Can is the poorest province.
  • Thai Nguyen and Bac Giang ranked at 36 and 43
    among 64 provinces by the increasing poverty.
  • Bac Ninh, Hai Duong and Vinh Phuc ranked at 14,
    23 and 28 (In accordance with MOLISA data, 2004).

Poverty in upstream and downsteam areas
  • Poverty is different in downstream and
    upstream areas
  • Upstream is much poorer than downstream.
  • Poverty in upstream is absolute poverty
    population lacks of basic living neccesities.
  • Poverty in downstream is caused by lack of
    agricultural land, lack of jobs, low income,
    shortage of sanitary living conditions. High
    population density and environment pollution
    are the main reasons.

Comparison of some indicators of Cho Moi and
Yen Phong districts
Comparison of monthly per capita income in 6
surveyed communes
Comparison of poverty rates in 6 surveyed
communes (poverty lines of 1 PPP/person/day,
equivalent to 160,000 VND/month and 2 PPP/
person/day, equivalent to 320,000 VND/month)
The poor
  • Larger hhs size
  • Less laborers, more children
  • Lower education level
  • Engaged more in agricultural, forestry
    activities, less in off-farm activities.
  • These characteristics are sharper in upstream
  • There is almost no cottage industry and

Poverty in upstream areas (1)
  • A part of households and small communities need
    to be supported for self-installation of
  • Most of water sources are not polluted, but
    there is water shortage in dry season and many
    households have to carry water home at a long
  • High percentage of temporary housing.
  • Most of households doesnt have sanitary
    facilities (toilet, bathroom, animal stall coled
    to living area).

Poverty in upstream areas (2)
  • Poor communal infrastructure
  • Only 60 of communes in Cho Moi district has a
    lower secondary school.
  • 22 class rooms are temporary 56 permanent
    (one-storey brick house) and 22 permanent
    (multi-storey house).
  • 1 medical doctor / doctor assistant is
    servicing 1000 person in a area of 1680 hectares.

Poverty in upstream areas Housing and water
2/3 semi-permanent and 1/3 temporary houses
1/3 dug well and 2/3 mountainous well, streams,
Poverty in downstream areas
High population density, few agricultural land ?
under-employment ? low income ? poverty ?
degradation of sanitary environment due to
cottage industry.
(No Transcript)
Average per-capita income of quintiles and
rich-poor gap
Environment in the Cau river basin
  • Four major human activities that caused
    environmental changes in the Cau river basin
  • 1) Excessive exploitation of forests in
    upstream areaa
  • 2) Industrial pollution
  • 3) Agricultural production and
  • 4) Waste from daily life.

Forest in upstream areas
  • Forest restores, but at a low speed.
    Restoration based mainly on natural process, with
    few intervention.
  • Forest has low quality.
  • Forest land has been allocated to households,
    but benefits is not strong enough to encourage
    hhs to take proper care and protect forest.
  • No effective policies to ensure forest product
    market for farmers.

Types of forest in upstream areas
Destroyed and restored forests
Natural and planted forests
Mining industries in upstream areas
  • Mining industries continue to pollute water
    sources, soil and destroy landscape
  • There are 35 mining and mineral processing
    enterprises in Bac Can, 100 mining ores in Thai
    Nguyen, many illegal mining groups.
  • Solid waste released from coal mines in the Cau
    river basin is estimated at 1.5 million tones per
    year from iron mines, 2.5 million tones per
    year and from tint mines, 800,000 tones per
  • Polluted water wasted from mining ores.
  • Forest and landscape have been destroyed.

Environment degradation in downstream areas
  • Pollution caused by large and medium enterprises
    is not effectively avoided.
  • Craft villages develop fast and are important
    polluting factor
  • There are more than 200 craft villages in the
    Cau river basin.
  • 3 major characteristics of craft vilages
  • (i) Spontanous development
  • (ii) Low level of technology
  • (iii) High instability due to weak
    competitiveness, small investment, no close links
    with consumption market and unqualified labour.

Phong Khe - paper village and Tam Da - alcohol
Impacts serious pollution of water sources
in craft villages
Negative impacts on health
Diseases caused by environmental degradation are
more popular in craft villages.
Negative impacts on health Sickness and sick
days are higher among the poor
Negative impacts on health
The poor in craft villages affected more by
diseases related directly to polluting factors
(eye, skin)
Negative impacts on health
The poor in craft villages affected more by
diseases related directly to polluting factors
(eyes, skin)
Behavior and action of local authorities,
businessmen and people against environmental
  • Conflict between poverty reduction, job creation
    and income generation for population in one side,
    and environment protection in other side.
  • Local authorities aware of pollution, but they
    are bearing the pressure of high economic growth
    and job generation and income generation.
  • Businessmen are bearing the pressure of
    competitiveness. They are not enforced yet to
    implement pollution preventing measures.
  • Local people perceive the problems of
    environmental pollution as they are the very ones
    directly bearing the effects of contamination in
    working conditions and daily life. Yet, they must
    give in so as to earn their living.

Summary of research findings
  • (1) Economic growth and environment The rapid
    economic growth in the context of poor economy,
    huge population and obsolete technology in line
    with highly intensive exploitation of natural
    resources such as forest, water, and minerals has
    consequently resulted in resource depletion,
    serious pollution and erosion in the Cau river
  • (2) Poverty The poverty is differently
    expressed in different regions in the basin.
  • In upstream areas, less developing infrastructure
    and self-sufficient economy are cause for
    poverty. The population cannot access the
    essential needs (electricity, clean water, solid
    housings, healthcare service, and schools for
  • In downstream areas, poverty is reflected in the
    shortage of cultivated land, lack of jobs and
    strong social gaps, scarcity of clean water and
    polluted living environment.

Summary of research findings
  • (3) Impacts of poverty on environment High
    demand for poverty reduction has led to intensive
    exploitation of all resources.
  • In upstream areas, forest and minerals have been
  • In mid- and downstream areas, industrial and
    agricultural production, especially production in
    craft villages polluted water sources, soil and
  • (4) Reverse affects of environmental degradation
    to poverty
  • In upstream areas, people are in shortage of
    clean water, farming activities are affected by
    toxic residues in soil and water and many
    villages are damaged by natural calamity related
    to upstream deforestation. These impacts put more
    constraints on the naturally difficult and slow
    process of poverty reduction.
  • In the middle and downstream areas, environmental
    pollution accelerates the poverty in some
    dimensions, for examples, meeting the needs of
    clean water and air, and sickness of population.

Summary of research findings
  • (5) The poor and the environment
  • The poor involve in the process of environmental
    deterioration as the employees under the pressure
    of existence. Entrepreneurs and decision-makers
    of socio-economic development and environmental
    protection strategies and plans are those who are
    primarily responsible for natural resource and
    environment destruction.
  • On the other hand, the poor are more affected as
    they cannot afford to protect themselves and to
    mitigate the impacts.
  • (6) Insufficient awareness of sustainable
    development and integrated management of regional
  • A common standpoint in the society is that
    the development is prone to economic growth and
    job creation, little attention is given to
    protection of natural resources and environment.
    Actions following this standpoint decrease
    sustainability of development in the Cau river

Recommendation 1
  • (1) It is necessary to formulate sustainable
    development strategy and action programs (Agenda
    21) in Cau river basin
  • The master plan on environment protection of
    the Cau river basin is still limited to the
    objectives of pollution treatment and
    environmental protection. It does not work out
    orientations and measures in the perspectives of
    economic development and poverty reduction in the
    basin, which are indeed the main cause for
    environmental degradation. If the economy of the
    provinces in the basin keeps growing as it has
    been for the past years, even with a larger scale
    and at a quicker pace as expected by the
    provinces, negative impacts on environment in
    general and on Cau river in particular will
    continue at a more severe level.
  • ? It is to start the formulation of a new
    regional master plan in the light of sustainable

Recommendation 2
  • (2) Equitable use and development of natural
    resources in the upstream areas of Cau
  • (2a) There need be particular measures to focus
    on enhancing forestation and forest protection in
    the upstream areas
  • Concentration of resources of the
    national reforestation programs to some key
    areas, such as watersheet protective forest,
    special forest.
  • Arrangement for people to carry out forest
    protection and cultivation of agro-forestry
    combination with enough strong incentives.
  • Mobilization of investment in forest
    product processing industry and ensuring market
    for forestry.
  • (2b) There should be a clearer strategic
    viewpoint of thrifty use of non-renewable
    resources, on that basis propose policies to
    limit, even totally ban exploitation of certain
    minerals whose exploitation and processing do not
    ensure the safety for environment, particularly
    small mines illegally exploited by private
    sector, or the overall and long-term economic
    efficiency is not high.

Recommendation 3
  • (3) Mitigation of polluting sources and
    pollution treatment in the middle- and down
    stream of the Cau river basin
  • Activities of craft villages in the down
    stream areas can hardly be regulated by normal
    measures for large- and medium-scaled enterprises
    ? to build up some special appropriate measures
    in order to orientate the development of craft
    villages, pollution prevention and to accelerate
    poverty reduction process in rural areas, such
  • Mobilize production units of industrial scale in
    handicraft villages into industrial zones that
    are planned at provincial level and with standard
    infrastructure even in environmental technology.
  • Strengthen capacity of environment management at
    provincial level, including the section in-charge
    of environmental issues of rural industry.
  • Assist consultancy agencies on environment and
    sustainable development that work in craft
    villages. Assist to perform pilot projects of
    rural industry development with community
    participation and in compliance with sustainable
    development principles.

Recommendation 4
  • (4) Poverty reduction policies in Cau river
  • In upstream areas
  • Elimination of absolute poverty requires
    support policies and activities to meet the most
    basic needs of the poor, such as ensuring the
    food security, electricity, clean water,
    healthcare service, and education.
  • Assistance to the whole community to overcome
    the common poverty causes.
  • Measures of poverty reduction should be
    comprehensive and long-term.
  • In downstream areas
  • Creation of more employment opportunities.
  • Assistance to poverty reduction aims to
    recover the separate poor dimensions which are
    worsen by environmental deterioration like clean
    water supply, morbidity .

Thank you