How effective is small dam flood safety accountability and assurance policy in Vietnam?
Tuyet Thi Dam
Professor Roger L. Burritt
Dr. John D. Pisaniello
Tuyet Thi Dam
University of South Australia
Centre for Accounting, Governance and Sustainability
Way Lee Building, City West Campus
North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000



The purpose of this paper is to examine the effectiveness of small dam safety accountability, responsibility and assurance policy practices in Vietnam. Vietnam is of interest because an increasing number of dam failures with catastrophic outcomes are associated with floods. Yet, the solutions necessary to minimise dam failure in Vietnamese floods remain unexplored.


The effectiveness of the Vietnamese small dam safety accountability, responsibility and assurance policy practices was tested via three stages. First, international benchmarks were established based on available literature for comparison with the case study in Vietnam. Second, ten on-site dam surveys were undertaken in Tan Moc commune in Vietnam to explore prevalent dam safety problems. Third, fifteen semi-structured interviews were conducted with five key stakeholder groups to examine perceptions of the effectiveness of the current policy and associated practices.


The surveys demonstrated that all ten dams surveyed were rated ‘High’ hazard and were at high risk of failure because of physical and management inadequacies. Interview evidence confirmed floods were the dominant cause of dam safety deficiencies and dam failures. In addition, accountability and responsibility for dam safety was poorly implemented giving low levels of assurance to communities. The comparison showed that Vietnam not only failed to satisfy international benchmarks but also performed far below the minimum level benchmark.


There is a lack of research on small dam safety management in developing countries. This research provides an original contribution towards assessing the status of small dam safety management and assurance policy in developing countries such as Vietnam.

Paper produced in cooperation with the 2011 acqua alta 2011 climate impact, flood protection and hydraulic engineering conference, 11-13 Oct 2011


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