Technocracy meets ethnicity: a World Bank water supply project in the Mekong Delta

2018-02-12T15:10:05Z (GMT) by Barbara Earth
Water supply and sanitation are severe problems in the Mekong Delta due to pollution of rivers, canals and ponds with agricultural chemicals, sewage and other wastes. A World Bank project to increase access to water in rural Soc Trang Province, Vietnam is assessed for its adherence to principles of sustainability and social justice, focusing on gender sensitivity of the intervention. The water infrastructure introduced by the project consisted of three components with varying levels of success. The community had most input into the construction of a piped water system, and this was most successful. The use of UNICEF hand-pumps and Thai design water jars were specified by the World Bank and were less successful. The project beneficiaries are mostly Khmer people who have a relatively gender egalitarian society, but several times the project implementation undercut Khmer gender equality. This project shows that gender sensitivity requires ethnic sensitivity.