Barriers and opportunities for the involvement of indigenous knowledge in water resources management in the Gam River Basin in north-east Vietnam

Thi Hieu Nguyen
Research Centre for Resources and Rural Development, Hanoi, Vietnam; hieu49mt@gmail.com

Anne Ross
School of Social Science/School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, Australia; annie.ross@uq.edu.au

ABSTRACT: Water resources management today has shifted from a purely technical response to one that involves multiple stakeholders to allow for cross-cultural and cross-issue discussion and cooperative management. However, the integration of indigenous knowledge and local people into mainstream natural resources management is still restricted due to epistemological and institutional obstacles. This research explores the differences in perceptions of the nature of water resources, and their consequent management, existing between local people and the government in the Gam River Basin of Vietnam, concentrating on the views of the majority Tay and Dao peoples. We focus on how knowledge differences can be communicated and how water management can integrate different ways of knowing. We identify barriers to, and opportunities for, the involvement of indigenous knowledge and local people in water resources management at the research site. We argue that local needs and aspirations in relation to the use and management of water resources do indeed have a role in the modern world, contrary to the views of many scientists and government officers. Therefore, indigenous knowledge needs to be considered in water resources management schemes, to achieve the effective and sustainable use of water in areas such as the Gam River Basin.

KEYWORDS: Indigenous knowledge, traditional ecological knowledge, water management, ethnic people, Gam River Basin, Vietnam