The goal, purpose and outputs of SAPA

Sustainable aquaculture for poverty alleviation (SAPA):
a new rural development strategy
for Viet Nam - Part II
Implementation of the SAPA strategy

Le Thanh Luu
Research Institute for Aquaculture 1 (RIA 1)
Hanoi, Viet Nam


The first part of this article, which dealt with the background, recognition, justification and emphasis of SAPA, was published in FAN 27. Part II discusses the objectives, emphasis, mechanisms and implementation processors of SAPA. FAO has been actively involved in the process of developing SAPA, the interesting strategy of "sustainable aquaculture for poverty alleviation".

The goal, purpose and outputs of SAPA

The Viet Nam Development Report 2000 "Attacking Poverty" emphasizes that each sector should design a programme that contributes to poverty alleviation, through contributing to three key pillars of poverty alleviation: (1) creating opportunity, (2) ensuring equity and (3) reducing vulnerability.

The SAPA strategy is formulated by the Ministry of Fisheries (MOFI) to contribute to the goal of poverty alleviation as part of the Government’s overall "Hunger Eradication and Poverty Alleviation" (HEPA) strategy. The purpose of the SAPA strategy is to enhance the livelihoods of poor and vulnerable people through aquaculture with the following outputs:

  • Capacity of institutions strengthened, particularly local institutions and communities, to understand and support the livelihood objectives of poor and vulnerable people who depend on, or who could benefit from aquaculture;
  • Access improved for poor people, to materials, information, financial and extension services and markets; and
  • Communication improved among stakeholders (at all levels within and outside the sector), through awareness raising and knowledge sharing; networking; inter-sectoral/sectoral and donor coordination; introduction of participatory planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation approaches; and informing policy development; and
  • Environmentally friendly, low-risk, low-cost aquaculture technologies and management practices developed and adopted.

SAPA approach

The SAPA strategy recognizes that a step-wise approach is needed to gradually build knowledge and activities based on analyses of livelihoods and local pilots. It makes the aquaculture sector part of the Government umbrella "Hunger Eradication and Poverty Reduction" (HEPR) Strategy coordinated by MOLISA (Ministry of Labour, Invalids, and Social Affairs). The following indicative activities will support the achievement of the above outputs.

Building capacity for poverty alleviation

The SAPA strategy emphasizes the need for strengthening of capacity among institutions, particularly local institutions, to understand and support the livelihood objectives of people in inland and coastal communities who depend on or who could benefit from aquaculture. The capacity of local institutions to understand poor people’s needs and participatory skills is the basis for guiding interventions that support and are based on poor people’s needs. The capacity for livelihood analyses will therefore be given a high priority during the early stages of implementation of SAPA. At the beginning of the implementation period, local institutions will be identified and their training needs for livelihood analyses clarified. SAPA will support capacity building based on these needs for the staff of these institutions, so that they can take responsibility to implement SAPA activities. Capacity building will progress through workshops, training and other relevant programmes and practical fieldwork on livelihood analyses in selected pilot communes.

Improving access of poor people to services

The SAPA strategy recognizes that better support for materials, information, financial and extension services and markets is required to serve the needs of poor people. The Strategy will therefore seek to establish more effective mechanisms for poor people to access the inputs and services required. Based on livelihood analyses, coalitions of partners will be established for support in selected locations. Consultations and partnerships will be established with agencies, such as the Bank for the Poor, to explore and develop means to improve access to financial and other services. The SAPA strategy will support pilot projects to develop new ideas and approaches that improve access of poor people to services. Such pilots would describe and recommend ways to improve access to resources, innovative extension tools and methods, and better access to markets, credit and other services to support poor people, and experiences will be widely shared.

Improving communications and networking

The SAPA strategy recognizes the need for much more effective networking and communication on poverty alleviation and aquaculture at all levels. Communication will be improved among relevant stakeholders through awareness raising and knowledge sharing, networking, sectoral and inter-sectoral and donor coordination, and the introduction of participatory planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation approaches. SAPA will collate and share existing and new experiences, and the lesson’s learnt will be used to inform government policy development. Initially, the SAPA document will be published and widely disseminated among concerned agencies and other stakeholders, and the document will be adapted to and circulated among farmers. To promote effective communication among existing projects, an information system will be established, building on existing systems and resources in Viet Nam. Links will also be promoted between Viet Nam and regional initiatives.

Environmentally sound, low-cost, low-risk and easily copied systems, based on identified livelihood objectives of poor and markets will be identified and disseminated through appropriate channels and in response to local needs. New ideas and approaches emerging from pilot projects will be communicated and widely shared. Communication and coordination among donors will be encouraged through formal and informal meetings to promote effective cooperation in support of the government objectives for poverty alleviation.

Technology and management

The SAPA strategy supports the development of environmentally friendly, low-risk, low-cost aquaculture technologies and management practices relevant to poor people. The technologies for small-scale freshwater aquaculture appropriate for poverty alleviation are now largely in place. Rather than technical research, the need now is for responsive government institutions, effective targeting of poor people and support to overcome the constraints to entry. In coastal areas, where there are significant numbers of poor people, such environmentally friendly, low-risk, low-cost technologies are not readily available, and a major concern in Viet Nam is to develop the technologies and management systems that are appropriate for poor people. In support of the development of aquaculture techniques, better social and environmental impact assessment methodologies and aquatic animal health management strategies for small-scale farmers are required. SAPA will support development of appropriate hatchery, nursery and grow-out technology and management practices, as required, through participatory research agendas. Capacity building and other support may be required to orient research institutes towards such new participatory-driven agendas. In open access resources in inland and coastal areas, SAPA will support the development and implementation of co-management approaches that help secure the livelihoods of poor people.

Target groups and areas

The ultimate target group of SAPA is poor people in rural areas where opportunities exist to diversify and improve livelihoods through aquaculture. Special attention will be given to the most vulnerable groups, and thus the geographical focus will be on the Northern Mountains, Central Highlands, North Central Coastal provinces and the Mekong Delta. The initial activities of SAPA will then be towards identifying the poor and more vulnerable groups, as a basis for more targeted follow-up activities within these selected geographical areas. The immediate target of SAPA is the supporting institutional and policy framework, and SAPA will establish links with district, provincial, national and regional institutions, and with donor/development agencies with responsibilities for poverty alleviation and sustainable rural development.

Integration with other poverty programmes

The SAPA strategy is to work alongside other projects and programmes, raising the profile of the role of small-scale aquaculture among external and Government resource providers within the emerging operational framework for decentralized rural development (whether these follow a broad rural development strategy or concentrate on a particular development sector, be it agriculture, health or education). If this takes the form of the current "1715 Communes Project", then local government (communes) will be able to propose projects in small-scale aquaculture in much the same way as presently takes place in rural infrastructure projects. As such, the SAPA strategy will help to widen the Government resources available for implementing this concept, as is already proposed in Decision No. 135. Aquaculture options for poverty alleviation should be emphasized within the development arena, through linking to rural development projects such as the World Bank pipe-line Project on Poverty Reduction for the Northern Mountains and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) project for poverty reduction for the Central Region. Already such a relationship is developing with the European Union-funded Rural Development Project in Cao Bang under the Asian Institute for Technology – Swedish International Development Agency (AIT-SIDA) Project.

It is therefore intended to move forward through implementing a series of "pilots" (pilot projects) in which both the approach itself and technical and management options for aquaculture could be tested. In some cases, such projects already exist, and would form the basis for this experimentation. In other areas, it may be necessary to develop new pilot projects.

Responding to poor people

The accountability and responsiveness of the MOFI to poor people will be key to the success of SAPA. The development of mechanisms for broad participation and the delivery of services, involving poor people in planning (identifying strengths and objectives using in a livelihood approach), identifying and developing partnerships, implementation, monitoring and evaluation is necessary. SAPA will aim to forge ties within communities and facilitate local collective action, by initiating programmes that build assets of poor people or make services more readily available. These might include intensive dissemination of information, facilitating networks to make available to communes the support they need to implement programmes. Where the management of an aquatic resource involves or is affected by other stakeholders, especially in coastal areas, wider public involvement will be encouraged. It is recognized that human resource constraints preclude the development of a dedicated extension service for the aquaculture sector. Instead, links would be made with non-specialist agencies (Agricultural Extension Services), social organizations and mass media, and unconventional means of extension explored. Materials developed with farmer participation and based on the information derived from pilot projects and success stories will be produced to assist these non-specialist groups in dissemination of information.

Awareness creation and capacity building among the institutions supporting the poor (e.g. local government/administrations, mass organizations, such as Departments of Fisheries (DoFI), Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) and Departments of Science, Technology and Environment (DOSTE), and social organizations, such as the Farmers’ Association, Women’s Union (WU) and Youth Association) to better understand and facilitate their objectives will be the key, to build capacity among poor people in support of their objectives. The emphasis will be on understanding the place of small-scale aquaculture in poor people’s livelihoods and the objectives and strengths of the poor. This will require creation of a training capacity, initially in pilot areas. It should be noted that some institutes, universities and projects have already developed some capacity in a participatory process, e.g. the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/FAO "Aquaculture Development in Northern Uplands" project is proving to be a focus of communicating skills in participatory assessment.

Implementation of the SAPA strategy

SAPA will be implemented gradually. It begins with capacity building in livelihood analysis that will be used to better understand the livelihoods of poor people in selected social and environmental contexts. This understanding and participatory process will provide the basis for development of a detailed workplan and implementation of activities required to support poor people. The Strategy itself is dynamic and has the capacity to adapt to changes as required during the long-term process of implementation. The Strategy targets 20 selected areas for the main activities during the first five-year period from 2001 – 2005. This time frame is in line with the first phase of the HEPR Strategy.

After 2005, a second five-year phase is planned that would aim to expand and duplicate the experiences of the first five years to a wider target audience throughout the country. The activities and the implementation plan of the Strategy are given in this Section II – Implementation of the SAPA strategy. The activities required are outlined in a logframe that will form the basis for development of detailed workplans for SAPA.

Institutional arrangements for implementation

Further development and implementation of SAPA is the responsibility of a committee that will consist of members from concerned ministries and mass organizations (e.g. MPI [Ministry of Planning and Investment] MARD, MOLISA, MOET, MOFI, WU and Bank for Poor). Ministerial Leadership within MOFI will chair it. The SAPA Committee will regularly communicate with the HEPR Strategy, approve annual workplans and reports, and promote the Strategy within the state machinery. The Chair of the SAPA Committee (or a person designated by the Chair) will represent MOFI in the Government HEPR Strategy Committee. An Implementation Support Unit (ISU), to be established within MOFI, will be responsible for the coordination of the day-to-day implementation of the Strategy among the stakeholders (e.g. DOSTE, International Cooperation Department, Extension Centre, Department of Fishery Resource Management, the Research Institutes for Aquaculture [RIAs], provincial DOFIs and DARDs, and other relevant organizations). The ISU will have one full-time administrator and several support staff.

The ISU will be the national focal point for linkage with other regional activities, such as the Asia regional "Support to Regional Aquatic Resources Management" (STREAM) initiative. As an implementation mechanism, appropriate focal points at provincial, district and commune levels will be selected for communications and information exchanges, and the communications network will be gradually expanded during implementation of the SAPA strategy. The focal points at the commune level will implement the day-to-day activities, assisted by the provincial and national networks. The implementation of SAPA will be decentralized, with support as needed from the ISU (see Figure 1).

Action Plan

The implementation will follow in accordance with the Government HEPR schedule for the period 2001-2010. There is a need for more detailed planning to be done on an annual basis. The MOFI will provide in-kind and cash contributions to support implementation of SAPA. The in-kind contributions will include an office for the Implementation Support Unit (ISU). The cash contribution will include an annual allocation of about VND300 million (US$20 000) for staff, for daily operation activities as contributions for the SAPA. Donor assistance will be requested to support the holding of workshops, training activities, office equipment and start-up operational costs for SAPA and the field activities. Some personnel and ad hoc international expert assistance will also be required, based on detailed needs to be elaborated. The local interventions in target areas will be formulated through a participatory process and submitted to government and donor agencies for funding support. The Government will undertake further discussions and negotiations to explore funding mechanisms for supporting poor people through SAPA during 2002.