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Old August 1st, 2009, 04:50 PM
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CHAPTER ONE:
INTRODUCTION


The capacity for governments in lesser-developed countries to provide adequate environmental services in urban areas has been studied extensively in the development and public administration literature (Grindle, 1997; Friere & Stren, 2001). Capacity building has also become an important focus of international development conferences (UNDP, 1992) and multilateral development agencies such as the World Bank. The identification of the key capacity constraints faced by government, identification of the appropriate public sector groups to be targeted and the best methods of achieving improvements in capacity have been some of the important areas focused on by capacity building practitioners.

The adequate provision of urban environmental services, including waste management, has been one of the many focuses of capacity building initiatives (Grindle, 1997; Friere & Stren, 2001). Due to a rapid rate of economic development and urbanization, public sector agencies in developing nations, such as Vietnam, have faced increased strain on their ability to provide the necessary level of environmental services for its citizens. Over the past decade, Vietnam has seen the generation of municipal solid waste increase substantially, while the capacity to effectively collect these wastes has not kept pace.

Inadequate human resources, financial and administrative capacity have been recognized by numerous agencies within the Vietnamese government (Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 1993, 1997a, 2001), and policies and projects have been proposed to overcome these capacity weaknesses (Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 1997c, 1999 & 2001). Central to these initiatives has been the passage of national waste management strategies, which have identified key capacity weaknesses, proposed short and long-term waste management targets, and attempted to define the roles and guide in the collaboration of pertinent government agencies involved in the provision of waste management services.

Through the use of key informant interviews, written questionnaires and document analysis, this study investigates the present state of Vietnamís urban waste management capacity and evaluates stakeholdersí opinions on the potential for alternative waste management approaches to overcome the existing capacity constraints. Using the capacity framework developed by Hildebrand & Grindle (1997), key issues were identified within each of the capacity areas studied. These include job retention, training and education and access to technical assistance as determinants of human resources capacity. With regards to financial capacity, the present system of budget allocation, waste management funding levels, and the current state of fee collection for waste management services in urban areas were investigated. Administrative capacity comprised the largest component of the study with a focus on the present state of Vietnamís national waste management policy and its implementation. The evaluation of policy implementation also focused on capacity constraints that have affected its intended outcomes. Specifically, the existing waste management policies and present state of inter-agency cooperation on waste management issues were evaluated.

In addition to evaluating the present state of waste management capacity, this study also explored the potential for decentralization of waste management authority to both subnational government agencies, as well as increasing the level of engagement of local non-state actors in Vietnam. Projects initiated by national or subnational government agencies, which seek to increase the involvement of provincial/city government, as well as promote the role of community-based organizations, the informal waste sector, and private waste collection companies, are a potential means of overcoming some of the capacity constraints identified within urban areas.

Findings from this study highlight several key capacity issues and potential means for addressing present capacity constraints. These findings are presented along with a discussion of the implications in light of the recent transition of state environmental management in Vietnam.
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