Can Tho City Establishes New Green Space In Model District
The Can Tho River side view at night
As a Year 3 Model City, Can Tho city is implementing two activities: (i) clean up and upgrading (visible transformation) of an open space beside a public market; and (ii) preliminary research on mainstreaming urban resiliency indicators.
Clean up and upgrading of public market
Cai Rang district is a peri-urban district adjacent to the city’s main Binh Kieu district, and famous for the Cai Rang floating market. It is organised into 7 wards. A pilot community (about 160 households) in Phu Thu Ward is selected as model community for introducing self-managed environmental protection activities led by the Vietnam Women’s Union (VMU), a government ‘political organisation’ which aims to empower women to participate and contribute to national development. There are roughly 70 active volunteers (out of roughly 1,380 VMU members in the whole Cai Rang district) who are more active in environmental protection, which is a fairly new issue for this community (since 2015). They meet about once a month, and are trained on waste segregation at source, plastic bag use reduction and general knowledge on environmental protection. The self-managed environmental protection committee organises regular public clean-up activities (roughly once a week).
Main façade of the Phu Thu market. There are both indoor and outdoor areas.
The Phu Thu fresh market is a 6-year old public market hosting 500 stalls over 4000m2, located in Cai Rang district (1 out of 9 in the city) which is about 20km away from the city core centre (Bin Kieu district). A company built the market and handed it over to the local government for operations and maintenance. So far, rental space is free and a rental fee of USD1/day is planned to be imposed in the future. There is an undeveloped tract of land (roughly 0.5km2) which is used as an open dump by the public and local traders. The market manager claims that the litter and waste are caused by illegal traders who prefer to occupy the roads directly outside the market, who do not comply with the waste management system enforced within the market premises. Illegal traders are an unstable group who prefer to operate outside the market due to more favourable location They get more business as customers would prefer to drive and stop to buy from them, rather than parking somewhere and walking into the market. There has not been sufficient political will to prohibit these illegal traders from doing business for ‘compassionate reason’ (they are very poor), while protests of the legal traders within the market have not been effective.
Under the Model Cities programme, the city held a public campaign to raise awareness on the importance of proper waste management and cleanliness. In February 2017, the city and volunteers cleaned up the open land next to the market and plans to develop it into a public green area for exercise and urban gardens in a few months (from Feb 2017). The transformation of the Model Site has a potential to be replicated to other parts within Cai Rang district or to another district. However, if the city management does it sustain it with significant transformation and law enforcement (to eliminate the serious littering problem), this project will not be sustained with good results.
The Women’s Committee need to be continuosly supported to implement more organised approaches for enabling public participation, for example, by allocating plots of land to teams within the community for gardening and beautification. Currently, there are virtually no incentives to motivate such voluntary efforts.
Banners were installed to denote the Model Site for transformation into a public green space. The red signboard informs the public that fines of VND100,000 (roughly USD5) will be imposed on those caught littering in the area. Proper enforcement and visible transformation with serious management of the transformed space are the main challenges for this initiative to be sustained.