A Policy Framework for a Provincial User-centric SDI to support Land Administration in Vietnam. Case study of Vinh Long Province

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2016
364 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents



List of Related Peer-reviewed Publications


List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1. Research background
1.2. Research problem
1.3. Research objectives
1.4. Research questions
1.5. Research design and thesis structure

Chapter 2: Research Methodology
2.1. Introduction
2.2. Research strategy
2.3. Research methods
2.3.1. Extended literature review
2.3.2. Qualitative research approach
2.3.3. Mixed-method approach
2.4. Case study strategy
2.5. Case study selection and fieldwork
2.5.1. Case-study selection criteria
2.5.2. Fieldwork
2.5.3. Identifying stakeholders for consultations
2.6. Introduction to case study
2.7. Data collection
2.7.1. Semi-structured interviews
2.7.2. Semi-structured FGDs
2.7.3. Questionnaires
2.8. Computer-aid data analysis
2.9. Ethical consideration
2.9.1. Informed consent
2.9.2. Privacy, confidentiality and anonymity
2.10. Chapter summary

Chapter 3: Literature Review on Spatial Data Infrastructures
3.1. Introduction
3.2. Spatial Data Infrastructure Theory
3.2.1. SDI concepts and definitions
3.2.2. SDI hierarchy
3.2.3. SDI components
3.2.4. SDI generations
3.3. Benefits of Spatial Data Infrastructures
3.3.1. SDI beneficiaries
3.3.2. SDI benefits
3.4. SDIs in Land administration
3.4.1. History of development of SDIs for land administration
3.4.2. Benefits of the SDIs to land administration
3.4.3. Spatially-enabled society
3.5. Development of an SDI Land in Vinh Long
3.5.1. Historical development of SDIs in Vietnam
3.5.2. Development of SDI Land components in Vinh Long Datasets User community Policies Standards Technology
3.5.3. Challenges for development of an SDI Land in Vietnam
3.5.4. Opportunities for development of an SDI Land in Vietnam
3.6. Chapter summary

Chapter 4: Literature Review on Land Administration in Vietnam
4.1. Introduction
4.2. Land administration
4.2.1. Land administration functions
4.2.2. Land administration components
4.2.3. Land registration
4.2.4. Cadastre and cadastral survey and mapping
4.2.5. Integrated Land administration
4.2.6. Fit-for-purpose land administration
4.3. Vietnam Land administration
4.3.1. Land tenure in Vietnam
4.3.2. Decentralised land administration system
4.3.3. Function-based organisational structure
4.4. Land administration reform in Vietnam
4.4.1. Land policy framework development
4.4.2. Vietnam land information system
4.4.3. Land transparency
4.5. Land administration in Vinh Long
4.5.1. Land administration profile in case-study area
4.5.2. Current status of development of land registration
4.5.3. Key issues in land administration in Vinh Long
4.6. Chapter summary

Chapter 5: Stakeholder Requirements for a User-centric SDI Land in Vinh Long
5.1. Introduction
5.2. Stakeholder awareness of SDIs
5.2.1. Public stakeholder awareness of SDIs
5.2.2. Grassroots stakeholder awareness of SDIs
5.2.3. Stakeholder recommendations
5.3. Stakeholder requirements for SDI Land components
5.3.1. Spatial datasets
5.3.2. User community
5.3.3. Policies
5.3.4. Standards
5.3.5. Technology
5.4. Discussion
5.5. Chapter summary

Chapter 6: Stakeholder Requirements for a User-centric LAS in Vinh Long
6.1. Introduction
6.2. Stakeholder perceptions of land administration
6.2.1. Stakeholder awareness of land administration
6.2.2. Perceived land use rights
6.2.3. The importance of land information
6.2.4. Limitations of land registration services
6.2.5. Barriers to participation in land registration services
6.2.6. Informal land transactions
6.2.7. Support provided by local land administration authorities
6.2.8. Women’s participation in land administration
6.2.9. Public awareness raising
6.3. Discussion
6.4. Chapter summary

Chapter 7: A User-centric SDI Land Policy Framework for Vinh Long
7.1. Introduction
7.2. SDI generation
7.3. On the need for a user-centric SDI Land policy framework
7.3.1. Shared data approach - a cost-based analysis
7.3.2. The benefits of an SDI Land
7.4. SDI Land hierarchy
7.4.1. User-centric SDI Land hierarchy
7.4.2. User-centric SDI Land institutional relationships
7.5. User-centric SDI Land policy framework components
7.5.1. Datasets
7.5.2. User community
7.5.3. Policies to support a user-centric SDI Land
7.5.4. Standards
7.5.5. Technology
7.6. Towards a spatially enabled society
7.7. Chapter summary

Chapter 8: Conclusion and Recommendations
8.1. Introduction
8.2. Research summary
8.2.1. Responses to Research Questions
8.2.2. Major research findings
8.3. Assumptions and limitations
8.4. Future directions, further implications, and ways forward
8.5. Concluding remarks

List of References

Appendix: Maps and Stakeholder Consultation Guide

List of Figures

Figure 1.1: Research design and thesis structure

Figure 2.1: Multi research method setting

Figure 2.2: Qualitative research framework

Figure 2.3: Combination of qualitative and quantitative methods

Figure 2.4: Case study strategy in Mixed-method approach

Figure 2.5: Location of case-study sites

Figure 2.6: Vinh Long - at a glance

Figure 2.7: Cloud of keywords

Figure 3.1: The bottom-up SDI hierarchy

Figure 3.2: The umbrella (A) and building block (B) view models of SDI

Figure 3.3: The US NSDI components

Figure 3.4: A system view of the spatial data infrastructure components

Figure 3.5: The 1996 Australian SDI components

Figure 3.6: The 2008 Australian SDI components

Figure 3.7: The dynamic SDI model components

Figure 3.8: The user-centric SDI design process

Figure 3.9: SDI common components

Figure 3.10: Continuum of SDI development

Figure 3.11: Land administration relies on an effective SDI

Figure 3.12: SDI development in Vietnam

Figure 3.13: Searching for LURC procedure on Vinh Long Portal

Figure 3.14: Searching for land value on Vinh Long Portal

Figure 3.15: Level of development of SDI Land components in Vinh Long

Figure 4.1: Land Administration four key functions

Figure 4.2: Land administration key components

Figure 4.3: The evolution of western cadastres

Figure 4.4: Land administration for sustainable development

Figure 4.5: Land tenure policy in Vietnam

Figure 4.6: Vietnam’s Decentralised Land Administration System

Figure 4.7: Vietnam land administration function-based organisational structure

Figure 4.8: Technological evolution in land administration

Figure 4.9: Level of access to land over the last ten year

Figure 4.10: Vinh Long provincial land administration organisational chart

Figure 4.11: Vinh Long public administration performance in 2015

Figure 4.12: Vinh Long public administration performance in 2011-2015

Figure 5.1: The ICT literacy of grassroots-level stakeholders

Figure 5.2: Sources for accessing land information at the grassroots level

Figure 6.1: Comparison of the importance of land use rights by communities

Figure 6.2: The evaluation of support of government authorities and staff

Figure 6.3: The support of government authorities and staff

Figure 6.4: Evaluation of support in applying LURCs

Figure 6.5: Public awareness-raising channels at grassroots level

Figure 7.1: Cost comparison between two models

Figure 7.2: The importance of Vinh Long user-centric SDI Land policy framework

Figure 7.3: Vinh Long user-centric SDI Land hierarchy

Figure 7.4: User-centric SDI Land institutional relationships

Figure 7.5: SDI Land datasets policy elements

Figure 7.6: SDI Land datasets layers

Figure 7.7: Key stakeholders of the provincial user-centric SDI Land User Community

List of Tables

Table 2.1: Summary of stakeholders approached for interviewing

Table 2.2: Profile of attendance

Table 3.1: The SDI definitions

Table 3.2: SDI Land datasets component development in Vinh Long

Table 4.1: Number of LURCs allocated of Vinh Long

Table 4.2: Land allocation to individuals/households and organisations

Table 5.1: The importance of land-related information to grassroots-level land users

Table 5.2: Participants’ searches for land-related information on the Internet

Table 5.3: What are the issues of SDI Land datasets, and their consequences?

Table 5.4: SDI Land stakeholders, with data demands and functions?

Table 5.5: How easy is it for you to access land-related information and land documents?

Table 5.6: The difficulties in accessing land information

Table 5.7: Have you used any online land services on the Internet?

Table 5.8: What are the issues of user community and the consequences?

Table 5.9: What are the issues of the policy framework, and their consequences?

Table 5.10: What are the issues of standards and the consequences?

Table 5.11: Participants searching land-related information on the Internet

Table 5.12: Improvements in access to land information

Table 5.13: Online services requested by age groups

Table 5.14: What are the issues in the technology, and their consequences?

Table 6.1: How well do you understand your land use rights?

Table 6.2: How important are each of the following land use rights to you?

Table 6.3: What kind of land information is the most important to land users?

Table 6.4: The evaluation of importance of LURC-related information

Table 6.5: The gender perceptions of LURC-related information

Table 6.6: Number of organisations people needed to visit for LURC completion

Table 6.7: Barriers to participating in land registration services

Table 6.8: The reasons for transferring land informally

Table 6.9: Who usually attend the village meetings?

Table 6.10: How often have you received information on gender in land management? .

Table 7.1: Type of stakeholders in the SDI Land

List of Abbreviations

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I certify that except where due acknowledgement has been made, the work is that of the author alone; the work has not been submitted previously, in whole or in part, to qualify for any other academic award; the content of the thesis is the result of work which has been carried out since the official commencement date of the approved research program; any editorial work, paid or unpaid, carried out by a third party is acknowledged; and, ethics procedures and guidelines have been followed.

Mau Duc Ngo

Melbourne, August 29th, 2016


First of all, I would like to send my sincere gratitude to my supervisory board members, senior supervisor Assoc. Prof. David Mitchell, and associate supervisors, Assoc. Prof. Donald Grant and Prof. Nicholas Chrisman, for their superb guidance along my four-year PhD journey. They have contributed significantly to the completion of this thesis through their prompt comments, questions, and invaluable suggestions. Their supervision has directed my research on track, and given me encouragement, trust and freedom to carry out the research.

I deeply appreciate the support and encouragement of the MONRE Minister, Dr Tran Hong Ha, and the former Deputy Minister, Prof. Dang Hung Vo. Special thanks also go to my colleagues at GDLA’s Department of International Cooperation and Science, Technology (DICST) for their support during my study in Melbourne.

In addition, I highly acknowledge and appreciate the support from the School of Mathematical and Geospatial Science (now School of Science), especially Prof. Matt Duckham - Deputy Head Research and Innovations, Chair of the completion seminar panel, Assoc. Prof. Colin Arrowsmith - Chair of the confirmation of candidature seminar panel, and Ms Eliza Cook - HDR Research Advisor. I also highly acknowledge and appreciate the support of Ms Jamie Low - the AusAID liaison officer of the International Student Services, throughout the last four-year period.

I warmly thank Dr Keith Bell (The World Bank), Mr Shivakumar Srinivas (UN-FAO), Prof. Abbas Rajabifard and Dr Ida Jazayeri (The University of Melbourne) for their valuable advice on the research proposal; Prof. David Coleman (The University of New Brunswick) for his valuable discussion when we met briefly early in the research; and Prof. Stig Enermark (Aalborg University, Denmark) for sparing me time to discuss the preliminary findings during his short visits to Melbourne. Acknowledgement is also given to the unknown reviewers who provided peer feedback with suggestions to the papers published and presented at the two FIG working weeks, and the World Bank conference. Their peer reviews have validated the research findings and contributed significantly to the completion of this thesis.

I would also like to express my thanks to many individuals at the central, provincial and grassroots levels who purely voluntary participated in this research. The time and information they shared with me through individual interviews, focus group discussions and questionnaire surveying provided me with enough information and data to gather the research findings and conclusion.

Furthermore, I thank the members of the RMIT University Study and Learning Centre, who helped me to detect the gaps and holes in my writings. The biggest thank regarding language editing goes to Dr. Bradley Smith, of Semiosmith Editing and Consulting Services, for his hard work in editing and proofreading my thesis.

I remain grateful to Australian Government for financially supporting my PhD under the Australia Awards Scholarships (AAS). Without this scholarship, all else would not have been possible.

Finally, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my family: to my parents and parents-in-law, who had worked hard to give their children, including me, all conditions to go to school; and to my wife, my brothers and sisters, who always believe in me. Their unconditional love is always with me. My name is written on the first page of this work, but your names are on every page.

To my beloved daughter and son, Jenny Mai and Haruki Khoa: I am back.

List of Related Peer-reviewed Publications

Ngo, M. D., Mitchell, D., Grant, D. & Chrisman, N. (2016). Accessibility to Land Administration by Grassroots Stakeholders in Vietnam: Case study of Vinh Long Province. FIG Peer Review Journal, 2016, pp. 1-21.

(This paper has been selected by the FIG President as FIG Paper of the Month for June 2016)

Ngo, M. D, Mitchell, D., Grant, D., & Chrisman, N. (2016). Stakeholder Perceptions Of Land Administration In Vietnam: An Analysis Of Stakeholder Consultations. Paper presented at the 17th Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty, Washington DC, March 14-18, 2016.

Ngo, M. D. & Mitchell, D. (2013). How an Effective Spatial Data Infrastructure Can Support Land Administration System in Vietnam. FIG Peer Review Journal, 2013, pp. 1-20.


The government of Vietnam has received a gradually increasing number of complaints and disputes over the last few years, with more than two-thirds of these complaints regarding land administration issues. Of the reasons for such complaints, limited accessibility to land administration and information for many stakeholders accounts for a significant portion. Significant resources have been invested in related work, including data collection, policy reforms, and technology for land administration. However, there has been very little work directed to policy development for a data-sharing framework to increase access to land and spatial information for all stakeholders. Understanding the issues and problems with respect to accessibility to land information and services is necessary to support the development of a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) for land administration (SDI Land). This thesis argues for the development of an SDI to support land administration by initially proposing a policy framework as the foundation for such an infrastructure.

The present research employs a multi-method approach with a case-study strategy to investigate the problems and issues in land administration, and the requirements for an SDI to support land administration at the provincial level in Vietnam. The thesis presents a case study based in Vinh Long, a southern province of Vietnam, and draws on this to propose an appropriate policy framework for a user-centric SDI to support land administration at the provincial level. The stakeholder consultations included in-depth interviews with central and local stakeholders, focus group discussions, and a survey by questionnaire of people at the grassroots level of land users.

The research found that there has not been a comprehensive policy framework developed in Vietnam to support an SDI Land. The research also found that there is a strong demand for access to land information and services from the majority of stakeholders at all levels. The research found limitations in access to land information for each stakeholder community and that these limitations depended on the citizens’ backgrounds. At the grassroots level, the provision of land information has varied in its effectiveness, especially in the rural areas. Young people are more likely to use the Internet for seeking land information; whilst the traditional village meetings are still the preference for the majority of older individuals. In addition, the research indicated limitations in land registration services delivery, due to several constraints. These included inconsistency in land policy, a lack of online land registration services and limited public awareness of SDI and sharing of spatial data. Policy and regulations regarding land registration are too complex for some land users to understand. Institutional issues included ineffective collaboration between government departments, and a lack of trust by some land users in dealing with land administration services. Furthermore, accessibility to spatial data and land information by stakeholders was shown to be weak due to limitations in infrastructure and information, ICT capacity and awareness. Limitations in internet infrastructure have constrained both government authorities and stakeholders in the provision of and accessibility to land information. The methods of delivery of spatial data and land information have also limited the sharing between agencies. Most of the activities regarding updating and sharing of spatial information involved manual processes, whilst the transfer of digital data between agencies was limited, mostly through CD, or flash disc devices. Furthermore, there have been limitations in the application of standards, including data and metadata standards. As a consequence, datasets still consist of many kinds of data, without standard formats, whilst the metadata were not always developed and associated with datasets. Many functions in spatial data collection and management overlapped between stakeholders, whilst the stakeholder engagement consultation has not yet been conducted to solve the related issues. In addition, the participation of community in land administration activities also remained limited.

The present research has proposed a policy framework for a user-centric SDI Land. It has been developed based on the literature review on development of SDI, land administration, fit-for-purpose land administration and spatially enabled society concepts, and results of stakeholder consultations on requirements of SDI Land common components. The policy framework includes policy requirements for SDI Land common components, which have been synthesised in the present research: datasets, user community, policies, standards and technology. The outcome of this research will assist in developing a user-centric SDI Land model to increase the accessibility to land administration and land information, and to contribute to the e -government agenda in Vietnam.

Further research is recommended, including in-depth investigation and establishment of an SDI policy framework at the national level, an SDI funding model, and fit-for-purpose land administration framework towards a spatially enabled society in Vietnam.

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1. Research background

The introductions of the global positioning system (GPS), geographic information system (GIS), and remote sensing (RS) have brought a breakthrough in Earth observation, and have been supporting human development since the early 1990s. As a result of this development, in 1990, the term spatial data infrastructure (SDI) was first introduced, together with other terms such as national information infrastructure and geographic information infrastructure (MSC, 1990), and was intended to distinguish from more specific terms such as land information infrastructure, land information system, property rights infrastructure, and land administration infrastructure. In 1993, the term appeared in the title of the book “Toward a Coordinated Spatial Data Infrastructure for the Nation” published by the US National Research Council (MSC, 1993). However, it was only in 1994 that the term was first introduced in a legal document issued by the President of the USA (The President, 1994). Later, Coleman and McLaughlin (1998) defined the term SDI in terms of its components and their relationships. According to the authors, SDI includes several components such as databases, metadata, data networks, technology, institutional arrangements, policies and standards, as well as end-users. Many definitions of SDI were then proposed by different researchers (Coleman & Nebert, 1998; Masser, 1999; Rajabifard & Williamson, 2001).

Together with the development of science and technology, SDI has been viewed from various perspectives, depending on the country’s approach and the awareness of government organisations of SDIs (Rajabifard, Feeney & Williamson, 2002a;

Thellufen, Rajabifard, Enemark & Williamson, 2009). However, even though there are differences in definitions of SDIs due to different national contexts or disciplines, most imply a similar overall goal, of improvement of access to and use of spatial data through effective and efficient data sharing.

Rajabifard, Williamson, Holland and Jonestone (2000) propose an SDI hierarchy containing both horizontal and vertical relationships among its jurisdictional levels. The core components of the SDI model proposed by the same authors were then introduced, comprising policy, access network, technical standards, people (the users) and spatial data. Later, the definition, ‘ SDI is fundamentally about facilitating and coordinating the exchange and sharing of spatial data between stakeholders in the spatial community ’, was introduced by Rajabifard, Williamson and Feeney (2003, p. 11). SDIs are established at particular levels, from local to global, or within specific disciplines, such as the land sector, to support decision-making for sustainable development of that particular level or area (Rajabifard et al., 2002a).

As other research in these areas has previously demonstrated, attempting to fuse the two broad study areas of SDI and land administration necessarily opens many conceptual and methodological questions - to which there are often neither satisfactory nor agreed upon answers. This thesis has taken the position that the proposed SDI Land is to support land administration.

An SDI for land administration and management is viewed as a framework that would support efficient and effective land functions and services, including land tenure, land taxation, and land management, and such an SDI is increasingly recognised by governments in developed countries as an essential resource to support the economic, social and environmental interests of a nation (Rajabifard, Williamson , et al., 2000).

At the national level, a national SDI (NSDI) is broadly seen as an important part of the evolving national information infrastructure, which would provide all stakeholders with access to essential government information. The NSDI has also been considered as a core part of the e -government program of every such country. It plays a central role in facilitating a country’s natural resources management and environmental protection, as well as economic and social development. However, the lack of a clear and well-established framework for institutional arrangements and overall policy for acquisition, management, and distribution of spatial data information represent common constraints on NSDI development in many developing countries. In each country, several agencies, mostly in the public sector, often develop their own spatial information systems individually (Steudler & Rajabifard, 2012; Williamson, Enemark, Wallace & Rajabifard, 2010). As a less- developed country, Vietnam is no exception to this global trend.

In Vietnam, the limitations in data coordination and sharing results in issues for land administration such as duplication of data collection and production, data incompleteness, non-standardized or poor quality data, and more importantly, inefficiency and low financial sustainability (Bell, 2014; Ngo, 2006; World Bank, 2008). Such results are frequently encountered in land administration and management programs. For instance, the cadastral maps for the purpose of land recovery and compensation are typically re-surveyed for land compensation in land development projects, especially in highway construction projects, even though they can be provided by the respective local land management agency. Reasons given for this duplicated work include data security, the limitations in quality of existing data, and the lack of regulation and mechanism of data sharing.

In Vietnam, the land administration and management modernisation program started in the mid-1990s, with a World Bank technical assistance program for designing a land administration and management project document. Unfortunately, that project design was not implemented, due to the difficulty in financial mobilisation (AusAID, 2001). Later, during the period from 1998-2008, with the support of the Swedish government, some capacity-building projects were implemented, such as the Cooperation Program on Land Administration Reform (CPLAR), and the Strengthening Environmental Management and Land Administration (SEMLA) Project. In the early 2000s, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE), the focal point for land administration at the central level, developed the comprehensive “Program for the development and modernisation of land administration for 2005-2020”, which could be seen as the first policy for the modernisation of the land administration system. The “Strategy for application and development of information technology for the management of natural resources and environment to 2015 and towards 2020” was then approved by the Government of Vietnam (GoV). Firstly, by 2015, two-thirds of the equipment used in survey and mapping as well as for land data capturing was to be equipped to meet the requirements of digital data production; and by 2020, the whole process shall be automated. Secondly, the national database of natural resources and environment was to be fully integrated into the government network, regularly updated, and give online access to the database for government agencies by 2015 (GoV, 2004). However, the government failed to achieve the above-mentioned objectives, due to the lack of availability of a coherent national approach to natural resources management strategy, including land administration. As evidence of this failure, the strategy has the purpose of the development of a modern land administration via implementation of many land projects, but most of these have focussed on the spatial data collection, during the period from 2005 to 2015 (MONRE, 2015b; World Bank, 2010).

In a broader perspective, the GoV has implemented concrete plans to accelerate the development of e -government and e -commerce services. The development strategy of the GoV has been set to move towards the application of ICT to promote stakeholders’ access to land administration information and other spatial data (GoV, 2010). In 2011, the GoV issued its decree on e-government to regulate the provision of online administrative services for government organisations (GoV, 2011a). However, the implementation of the related projects has faced a number of difficulties, including in legal frameworks, financial constraints, and limitations on capacity. For instance, according to the recent report of MONRE (Khanh Ly, 2016), by March 2016 the progress of the project for building an integrated network of natural resources and environment information, planned to close in 2015, has achieved only 79% of the implementation plan. However, the development of policy and institutional frameworks and technical standards, for effectively coordinating and sharing of the data (especially between land administration and other stakeholders), remains a matter of major importance for the GoV.

While the use of volunteered geographic information (VGI) is a topic that of increasing interest to the international land sector, for example: Olteanu-Raimond et al. (2016), Rahmatizadeh, Rajabifard and Kalantari (2016), it is considered that it is currently a low priority for Vietnam at present. Therefore in this thesis the inclusion of VGI into an SDI Land has not been explored. Rather it is mentioned in Chapter 8 under future directions.

1.2. Research problem

In Vietnam, the General Department of Land Administration (GDLA) of MONRE is mandated as the lead agency for the development of an NSDI clearinghouse, spatial data standards, cadastral data content standards, and a national digital geospatial data framework and partnerships for land data acquisition in Vietnam. GDLA is responsible for advocating with the other government agencies for necessary laws to reform public land, land registration and other land regulations, for a more efficient resource management system in the country (GoV, 2008b).

Such a transparent system is an essential tool for public service delivery provided by the government, and is clearly embedded in the planning for sustainable socioeconomic development. The system will contribute to good governance, and should further strengthen the trust of local people in land-related activities. A transparent land management system must be functioning effectively, and implemented as a critical, public good infrastructure, in which the SDI concept plays a role as a key component (Bennett et al., 2013; Williamson, 2001).

In Vietnam, the GoV has committed itself to the development of a modern land administration system. Since the late 1990s, with the purpose of the completion of land registration processes as well as the issuance of land use right certificates (LURC) to land users, the GoV has invested a vast amount of money, around $60 million per year, to develop the land information and registration system, with the strong support of donors such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank (ABD), Australia, and Sweden (World Bank, 2008, 2011). However, despite some recognised improvements, the land sector is still ranked as one of the top three public services for corruption in Vietnam. In addition, the volume of civil disputes and administrative complaints related to land shares the largest part, about 70% of such legal disputes and complaints to the Government, according to the figures of MONRE, and the Government Inspectorate (GIV) (Dang Linh, 2015). The 2008 Vietnam Household Living Standards Survey (VHLSS) recorded more than 85% of households as having anomalies that might be considered as corruption characteristics in the application for LURCs (GSO, 2008). Recently, companies have experienced less corruption in the applications for LURC, but it nevertheless remains at a high rate, with more than one-third (37%) of enterprises revealing that they paid unofficial money for land titling (Dang, 2007; World Bank, 2010; World Bank & GIV, 2013).

The procedures for land registration and statistics have been issued and revised several times as the result of technology development, aiming at the support of ICT for land registration and statistics. However, the support of technology in land registration has still remained low. Land registration procedures have been evaluated as unclear (Ho, 2016). The above-mentioned VHLSS survey concluded that there was significant room for improvement, owing to 35% of interviewees indicating that the land titling procedures were complicated and lacking in transparency (World Bank, 2010). Meanwhile, standards for the preparation and issuance of land registration, which had been expected in order to detail the procedures for land registration and statistics (especially in the application of ICT), have been delayed (World Bank, 2012). In addition, the progress of formulation and re-organisation of land registration offices (LROs) in accordance with new requirements has been slow (Ho, 2016; MONRE Portal, 2016). As a consequence, unofficial land transactions have continued in spite of the efforts made by the governments both at central and local levels.

Thus, despite these significant efforts, the delivery of land administration services by modern methods continues to be limited, for several reasons including the weak capacity of human resources, limitations in the application of technology, and inconsistency of databases (CECODES, VFF-CRT & UNDP, 2015; Ho, 2016; MONRE, 2015b). Since the late 1990s, almost all of Vietnamese government agencies dealing with natural resources management, including land and environment, have used GIS technologies and relational database management systems (RDBMS) for their work on spatial data and for processing land registration and related services. Recently, the Government has invested sizable budgets annually in producing and strengthening land administration by applying GIS and RDBMS in land information systems (LIS), such as the development of land databases integrating both spatial and attribute data, and development and application of land registration software. However, the cadastral records, especially cadastral maps, usually become out-of-date after a year of their establishment, because they have not been updated regularly. Moreover, it is difficult to access land information since the data are achieved in a single database that is not integrated with the other information in a unified system, and are frequently undocumented, redundant, and in incompatible formats. Besides this, the data are usually stored and managed by different departments and institutions of Government. The land information has not been disseminated and the related services have not been provided effectively, due to the lack of an institutional framework and information mechanism, as well as an inefficient land portal. Currently, models of LIS have been developed by government agencies, in particular the Vietnam Land Information System (ViLIS) and Environmental and Land Information System (E-LIS). Both of these have been deployed in response to the demands of local governments (MONRE, 2015b).

In addition, in 2010, MONRE issued the cadastral data content standard (MONRE, 2010), which was developed based on the geospatial standards ISO19100 and Land Administration Domain Model ISO1952 (D. Do et al., 2009), for the purpose of setting up a standard for the development of land information system software in the country. The issuance of the said standard expected strong investment from the private sector in land administration activities, especially in providing services for land registration and information system contracts. However, until recently, there have been only two above-mentioned land information software packages mobilised by provinces (Pullar, 2013).

Vietnam has paid significant attention to developing a comprehensive land information policy and strategic framework for standards and procedures, to support an integrated national LIS, and spatial information has been increasingly acknowledged as a national resource essential for sustainable development (GoV, 2004). Nevertheless, such a system still requires the government to undertake legal and regulatory reforms, to establish the land information management required for electronic storage and transactions, through effective inter-agency coordination of data sharing and protocols. The report of the World Bank on a policy study on NSDI vision and strategy for Vietnam indicates there has been no comprehensive and standardised SDI policy framework for the land sector in place (World Bank, 2011). In addition, an interactive survey in 2013 at the central government organisation level, to improve the land administration system with the support of ICT, found that about half of participants (47%) indicated that the largest challenge in the application of ICT in the land sector was the lack of a legal framework to underpin ICT­based administration services (Jones, 2013). Having searched the literature and reviewed government documents, in the present research it is found that, since 2011, SDI and related terms, especially policy framework, have not been mentioned in any documents or research. The newest high-level decision made by the Prime Minister on approval of a large land administration project indicated that the aim was building a service-oriented land administration system in the country (GoV, 2016) - which could be understood as a process-focused approach to land administration system. This new policy is in accordance with the government resolution on e-government (GoV, 2015). At present, it is the lack of policy framework and knowledge gaps that affect users, providers and administrators of SDI seeking to build an appropriate SDI model for the land sector. In addition, as a less-developed country, the land administration system of Vietnam should require the active participation of all stakeholders based on their demands - a demandfocused (as known as a user-centric) approach (P. Singh, 2009).

Similar to other nations, almost all land-related activities in Vietnam happen at local levels, with the management of provincial government (VNA, 2013b). Thus, detailed information on land is necessary at local levels (the operational level), whilst at the national level (the managerial level) general information can be generated from the detailed information at local levels. Therefore, it is necessary to conduct comprehensive research on the development of a policy framework, as a basis for the development of an SDI to support land administration. This should be based on the active participation of all land stakeholders (hereafter referred to as user-centric SDI Land) at the provincial level, where most of the land-related activities happen.

1.3. Research objectives

The aim of this research is to ‘develop a policy framework for a user-centric SDI Land at the provincial level in Vietnam’. The sub-objectives are:

1. To contribute to the government’s implementation of the modernisation of land administration strategy and the broader e -government agenda.
2. To increase access to land information and land-related services by all stakeholders.
3. For the policy framework to enhance the delivery of spatial data and provision of land information at all levels.

To achieve these objectives, the present research investigates the problems discussed above, and focuses on several research questions relevant to assessing the role of SDI in government reforms in the areas of land administration, revenue mobilisation, policy, and techniques and technology aspects.

1.4. Research questions

To carry out the proposed research with the above-mentioned objectives, the following research questions are raised:

RQ1: How can an SDI Land support land administration in Vietnam?

RQ2: What do the stakeholders require for a modern land administration system (in a case-study province)?

RQ3: What are the barriers to the development of a provincial user-centric SDI Land (in a case-study province)?

RQ4: What is the appropriate policy framework for the provincial user-centric SDI Land (in a case-study province)?

1.5. Research design and thesis structure

The present research was conducted in four phases, comprising desktop research, fieldwork, data analysis, and discussion. The present thesis is organised in five parts. Figure 1.1 summarises the Research Design and Thesis Structure.

The first phase of the research was the desktop research phase, which mainly involves literature reviews on the land administration and SDIs development, from global to national then provincial contexts, to define the research problems and objectives that underpin the research. This phase also included the selection of research method, by investigating the several measures that were relevant to the research. During this phase, the research objectives and research questions were defined.

The results of this desktop research were documented and separated into two parts: “Introduction and Methodology”, and “Literature Review”. The introduction to the research context, research problem, objectives, and research question, forms Chapter 1. The introduction to research methods, selection of case study, and data collection process, as well as data analysis, forms Chapter 2. The first two chapters thus form the first part of the thesis: Introduction and Methodology.

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Figure 1.1: Research design and thesis structure

Chapters 3 and 4, respectively, present the results of the literature review of the two related topics of the research, SDI, and land administration. These two chapters form the second part of the thesis: Literature Review.

The second phase of research involved fieldwork, which was conducted in Vietnam. The fieldwork involved stakeholder consultations, including individual interviews with key staff at related stakeholder organisations, discussions with focus groups at the grassroots level, and questionnaire surveys carried out at three communes of the selected case study in Vinh Long Province. More detail on selection of the case study is presented in Chapter 2. The data collected was then analysed using data analysis software in the third research phase: Data analysis.

The findings of these two phases are presented in Chapters 5 and 6 on, respectively, the topics of SDI, and land administration. These two chapters thus form the third phase of the thesis: Findings.

Based on the findings of the data analysis and the literature review, the research moved on to the final research phase: Discussion. In this phase, a discussion on the Policy Framework for a Provincial User-centric SDI Land was conducted and proposed. The result of this phase of the research is presented in Chapter 7, forming the findings of the thesis. In addition, the conclusion and recommendations of the research, presenting the summary of the research findings, the results against research objectives, discussion of the research implications, and further recommendations, are presented in Chapter 8, which forms the last part of the thesis: Synthesis.

The present research involved the human perceptions of stakeholders in Vietnam; therefore, the selection of research methodology is an important factor in the results of stakeholder consultations. The research methodology is presented in more detail in Chapter 2.

Chapter 2: Research Methodology

2.1. Introduction

Research strategy and methodology play an essential role in research related to the human being, society, and geography. The selection of methods decides to a significant degree the success of research projects (I. Hay, 2010). Within the present research, the selection of appropriate research methods, including the participant mobilisation approaches, is important for facilitating the effective collection of data. This chapter discusses the approach, strategy, and methods that were used to investigate the research questions outlined in the previous chapter.

This chapter commences with an introduction to research strategy in order to set the foundation for selection of research methods. The next sections discuss the research methods and case strategy used in the research. The chapter then describes, in Section 2.5, the selection of case study areas, and introduces, in Section 2.6, the case study areas, including natural conditions, land use, and land tenure. The chapter also summarises, in Section 2.7, the process of data collection, including individual interviews, group interviews (referred to as focus group discussions - FGDs), and questionnaires, with summaries of the profiles of participants. Finally, the chapter then introduces, in Section 2.8, a summary of the application of computational data analysis, and closes with ethical issues such as informed consent, and ensuring the privacy, confidentiality and anonymity of the participants - both invited and participated individuals.

2.2. Research strategy

There are three categories of research methodology and strategy used in research combining social and managerial sciences. These are statistical, case study, and comparative approaches. Each of these gives particular advantages. Usually, a mix of quantitative and qualitative analysis is used corresponding to the type of research undertaken, as in the present research, involving human participants and their views (I. Hay, 2010; Ritchie, 2003).

The statistical method employs formal hypotheses, with an emphasis on quantitative data collected by means of measurements, experiments and instruments. This method is usually applied for a large number of cases. According to Maykut and Morehouse (1994), the techniques used in this method, therefore, reflect an underlying positivist ontology and epistemology. Description in depth, by contrast, investigates a limited number of cases to elicit a “thick description”. In this case, some case studies are entities that will be thoroughly investigated without dependent and independent variables and variation during the investigation. The use of “thick description” reflects a greater affinity with qualitative interpretations of social science problems (Sieber, 2009).

To respond to the research questions stated in Chapter 1, the present study was conducted by means of combined research methods, supported by sources of evidence collected from the stakeholder consultations and case study areas. The key stakeholders and case study areas were selected in order to investigate the research problems in depth, to set the foundation for the discussion.

2.3. Research methods

To implement the research with the aim and objectives mentioned in Chapter 1, a set of research methods has been employed to address the research questions. Those proposed methodologies were used to investigate those problems, and focused on several questions relevant to assessing the role of SDI and its policy framework in government reforms in the areas of land administration, revenue
mobilisation, policy, and technique and technology aspects. Figure 2.1 below describes the combined use of research techniques for reaching the research findings. Literature reviews, quantitative (questionnaire) techniques, and qualitative (interviews, individually and group) techniques have been used in the present research (Yin, 2014).

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Figure 2.1: Multi research method setting (Adapted from Yin, 2014)

2.3.1. Extended literature review

To develop the research background, an extensive literature review was undertaken. The preliminary investigation of research objectives required a comprehensive understanding of drivers for land registration service delivery in Vietnam and internationally. The research also required a thorough understanding of the land administration, SDI framework, concepts and components, and also international experiences in the development and implementation of SDIs, and land administration systems. As mentioned in Chapter 1, attempting to fuse the two broad study areas of SDI and land administration opens many conceptual and methodological questions - to which there are often neither satisfactory nor agreed upon answers. Therefore in this thesis the decision was made that the proposed SDI Land is intended to support land administration. The search included many types of literature including books, journal articles, conference papers and proceedings, government reports, and other relevant information published over the Internet. The literature review provided the fundamentals for the development of the research strategy, and highlighted the major issues that were considered when developing the policy framework.

2.3.2. Qualitative research approach

While the literature review approach was used to understand the land administration and SDI theories, investigate problems, and identify the gaps in development and implementation of an SDI model for the land sector in Vinh Long Province, the quantitative and qualitative methods were employed for analysing the community and stakeholder perceptions of land administration and SDI. Therefore, the research employed a qualitative research approach through interviews and FGDs with human participants and informants; and a quantitative analysis of responses to questionnaires.

According to Fontana and Frey (2011), the qualitative method investigates individuals in certain situations in their localities, using an interpretive research approach that relies on many types of subjectively collected data. Similarly, Maykut and Morehouse (1994) assert that qualitative research discovers patterns that emerge after close observation and discussion, careful documentation, and thoughtful analysis of the research topic. These are considered by the investigators when designing a qualitative research study because it is important to understand that ‘a qualitative research study has a focus but that focus is initially broad and open- ended, allowing for important meanings to be discovered’ (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994).

One of the advantages of interviews in qualitative research is that the interviewing questions are permitted to expand or even change during the interviewing period, in order to focus on explored phenomena. Correspondently, the data collection is not only limited to a pre-established set of questions and topics but can be extended to the study of various characteristics. Consequently, rich and detailed data can be obtained, to lead to a better description of individual experiences and social structures. Figure 2.2 presents the framework of qualitative research based on its characteristics.

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Figure 2.2: Qualitative research framework (Maykut & Morehouse, 1994, p. 43)

Christensen, Johnson and Turner (2011) argue that the best-suited data for understanding behavioural patterns of individuals is non-numerical data. Nonnumerical data can be statements of an interviewee during the interview, written records, pictures, observed behaviour, or historical information.

Both qualitative and quantitative investigators tend to rely on the interview as the basic method of data gathering and analysis, as it is one of the most commonly used qualitative methods to involve human perspectives. Interviews include structured, unstructured interviews and even simply questionnaires with given options to choose from. In a structured interview, the investigator asks all participants in the same order a series of pre-established questions. Generally, in this method, there is little room for variation. On the other hand, an unstructured interview provides greater breadth in comparison to any other interviewing types. The combination of structured and unstructured interviews creates a semi-structured interview method, which takes advantage of both ways of data collection.

In group interviewing, also known as FGD, the investigator plays a role as a moderator or facilitator, to direct the inquiry and interaction amongst participants in a selected form of interview. FGDs are sometimes described as a more naturalistic investigation than in-depth interviews, and they still bring significant benefits such as a social context for the research, which could not be gained from individual interviews. This form of interview provides an opportunity to explore how people think about a particular topic and how each participant’s ideas are shaped and moderated through conversation with others, as this form of interview allows participants to discuss their ideas with others (Finch & Lewis, 2003; Ritchie, 2003). Focus group interviews can be conducted in different forms, depending on the purposes of investigators, including brainstorming interviews with no structure or direction from the moderator, or very structured interviews with strict direction from the facilitator (Fontana & Frey, 2011).

Both individual and focus group interviews can be set in a formal and informal arrangement, from very structured to unstructured sets of questions.

Christensen et al. (2011) summarise the definition and purpose of qualitative research as follows: “At its most basic level, a qualitative method is defined as the approach to empirical research that relies primarily on the collection of qualitative data, i.e. non-numeric data such as words, pictures, images” (Christensen et al., 2011, p. 361).

In contrast to quantitative surveying, qualitative research interviewers themselves are research instruments, with some common key requirements such as the ability to listen - the art of interviewing - a clear, organised and logical mind, and a good memory. Therefore, the success of qualitative research depends to a large extent on the personal and professional qualities of the investigator. In addition, the first stage of an interview, which eases the gap between the interviewees and interviewer, and brings the focus of participants on a specific set of topics, decides the success of the interviews (Legard, Keegan & Ward, 2003).

In the present research, the semi-structured interviewing method was employed for its flexibility in allowing explorations of stakeholders’ perceptions of the two research topics. The semi-structured interviews employed an interview guide with content-focused questions to deal with the issues or topics judged by the researcher to be relevant to the research questions. This type of interview is organised around ordered but flexible questioning (Dunn, 2010).

2.3.3. Mixed-method approach

In research related to social and human sciences, the use of a qualitative or a quantitative method is common. In fact, the most common approach is the use of a mixed-method design combining techniques from both qualitative and quantitative research traditions to form a unique approach for investigating research questions, by providing stronger inferences and presenting a greater diversity of views (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2010). Creswell and Clark (2007) introduce a comprehensive definition of mixed methods research as follows:

‘Mixed methods research is a research design with philosophical assumptions as well as methods of inquiry. As a methodology, it involves philosophical assumptions that guide the direction of the collection and analysis of data and the mixture of qualitative and quantitative data in a single study or series of studies. Its central premise is that the use of quantitative and qualitative approaches in combination provides a better understanding of research problems than either approach alone’ (Creswell & Clark, 2007, p. 5) .

In a mixed-method approach, qualitative and quantitative methods can be combined in three ways. In two approaches combining the different types of method, one can be dominant over the other; while in the third approach both are given equal weight (Figure 2.3).

Figure 2.3: Combination of qualitative and quantitative methods

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(Adapted from Creswell & Clark, 2007)

Depending on the purpose of the research, it can be seen that, in all three ways of combination, a mixed-method research can investigate data coming from both qualitative and quantitative primary level studies to provide a better understanding of research problems than either approach alone.

Within the present research, to understand and become familiar with the government institutions in the country in regard to land administration and SDI, consultations and surveys with key stakeholders at both central level and provincial level were conducted. The purposes of stakeholder consultations were to examine the current usages of, and demands for, spatial data as well as land data. This enumerated a complete list of agencies that are engaged in collecting, storing and distributing land data.

The present study employed a multi-method setting using a case-study strategy. The use of case-study strategy allows many different sources of evidence. While the qualitative method provided the opportunity to investigate the organisational and institutional aspects of the partnerships in depth, the quantitative approach examined a large number of participants, facilitating a greater breadth of views (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2010). The use of several methods is considered to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon being investigated (Christensen et al., 2011).

The main analysis of the present research was thus based on participant perceptions of the quality of land administration-related services, through a variety of research approaches including interviews, FGDs, and questionnaires. For this purpose, the full participation of people involved became an important factor. It also requires a good relationship between the investigator and participants, to build trust for the interviewees to feel free to share their opinions, views and descriptions of a situation.

The qualitative approach used in this research included interviews with groups of experts at ministerial level, and provincial level, in international organisations, donors, private and academic sectors, and land users at grassroots level. The interviews and discussions were to investigate the research problems within their real context.

The quantitative method was used in this research to gather information about: the participants’ attitudes, thoughts, and evaluation when doing land registration at the government agencies; and the difficulties encountered, and deficiencies, as well as expectations, in accessing land information. The participants in this activity included land users with a mix of gender and cultural backgrounds, at the grassroots levels.

2.4. Case study strategy

A case study is defined as an intensive and detailed study of a single unit for the purpose of understanding a large number of units. In the other words, case-study research investigates a single example or a small number of instances of the phenomenon, in order to examine, in-depth, fine distinctions in a phenomenon, and explanations of the phenomenon. Case studies have a long and rich history in research related to social sciences and involving humans, including in human geography. The case-study methodology is a powerful measure by which investigators can both understand the practical aspects of a phenomenon of place, and develop and update theory (Howitt & Stevens, 2010).

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Figure 2.4: Case study strategy in Mixed-method approach

A case study can be a person, an event, a process or, normally, a particular place. The research employing case study strategies often uses various combinations of qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection and analysis, such as interviews, focus groups, participant observation, or questionnaires.

In the present research, a case-study strategy was employed since the problems which were to be studied were best considered by examples describing the situation in the area. The other reason that case study strategy was used in this research is that the investigated issues could not be described sufficiently via a literature review, or that the literature review needed to be re-assessed and re-confirmed.

The most important purpose of stakeholder consultation in the present research was to understand and become familiar with the government institutions in the country in regard to land administration and SDIs. This was in order to verify the literature review findings, and to understand the current statuses of development and implementation of an SDI as well as spatial information infrastructures of ministries and disciplines. The use of a case-study strategy within this research enabled the investigator to explore the stakeholder perceptions of land administration and SDIs, as well as their requirements and recommendations for a policy framework for an SDI Land.

2.5. Case study selection and fieldwork

2.5.1. Case-study selection criteria

The selection of case study was based on the criteria developed in the first stage of the project by consultation with several land experts within the country. Firstly, the selected province should be nearing completion of the cadastral survey and mapping as well as the initial land registration. This could be verified by the annual report submitted to MONRE. The reason for this condition is to investigate as many types of cadastral activities as possible. Secondly, the selected province should have a developed organisational structure and personnel. The reason for this condition is to ensure that the stakeholders interviewed are knowledgeable about the topics on which they will be interviewed and can provide well-informed and therefore valuable responses to the investigator. Thirdly, the selected province should be in early stages of development/implementation of land information system. This is to ensure that the interviewees can imagine their future plans for delivery of land information and services, and therefore, provide the investigator with valuable information. Furthermore, the province should conflate both urban and rural areas. Finally, the selected province should be accessible to the investigator.

Having investigated the conditions of several provinces and consulted with country experts, Vinh Long, a southern province, was chosen as the case study site for this research. An introduction to the province and selected communes from which data were collected is presented in Section 2.6.

2.5.2. Fieldwork

The stakeholder consultations and the field visit took place during the period August 5 to October 30, 2013. These activities included two phrases. The first phase involved one-on-one interviewing with key staff of selected stakeholders. The second phrase contained group interviewing (focus group discussion) with three groups at grassroots level, and surveying by questionnaire. The consultation was conducted by e-mail and telephone communication before the first stage of the fieldwork. The interviews, using both formal and informal methods, were conducted with key identified stakeholders in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Vinh Long Province.

2.5.3. Identifying stakeholders for consultations

One of the most important factors in the modernisation of the land administration system in Vietnam is to satisfy the demands of related stakeholders. Therefore, it is important to understand who the stakeholders are and what roles each play. As an administrative sector, land administration, as well as SDI Land, has three important stakeholder groups. The first group comprises organisations/agencies that are mainly responsible for producing land-related data, such as the survey and mapping departments, land registration offices, land registration, and statistics divisions, at both central government and local government levels. The second group comprises government departments and commercial enterprises who add value to the data by extracting information from the data collection. The last group is information users, including individuals and the general public, acquiring benefits from the availability of information.

In Vietnam, the key SDI Land stakeholders are the land-related government agencies, including policy makers, administration authorities, technical agencies, and service providers. They play an important role in the development and operation of the data access component as well as information infrastructure. Their role depends largely on government policies regarding data management, distribution and access, and cost recovery. Business entities will play a strong role as providers of tools and services to support the development of the SDI Land. They may also be suppliers of primary and value-added data. The consumers or end-users are more concerned about data access, the functionality of the infrastructure tools, the amount and quality of the content accessible, data access fees, and usage policies.

One of the first steps to engage stakeholders is to identify those organisations that have a role to play in the SDI Land. Organisations and authorities at different levels and interest groups have different motives and interests. It is of fundamental importance to analyse these interests and expectations, both early on in the development process and later again during the implementation of the SDI Land. A fundamental requirement of all development projects is that the objectives reflect the needs of the society and the interested groups, and not merely the internal needs of institutions.

2.6. Introduction to case study

The selection was based on a number of criteria, including technical, professional and organisational development, as well as the academic collaboration of the provincial leaders in the land sector. Demographical distribution and geographical range were also taken into consideration for the selection of the case study areas. Other criteria included the availability of as many land services as possible, the commitment of provincial leaders, and the accessibility for investigator.

Located in the Mekong Delta region, lying between two major rivers in the area, Vinh Long Province (hereinafter called Vinh Long) plays an important role in agricultural production and is well known for fishing in the south of Vietnam. The Province is about 135km from Ho Chi Minh City - the political-economic centre of the country, next to Can Tho city to the south - one of five cities under the central government1. Vinh Long is located between 9052’45’’-10019’50’’ longitude and 104041’25’’-106017’03’’ latitude. Figure 2.5 presents the locations of Vinh Long in Vietnam, and the three communal case study areas in Vinh Long City and Vung Liem District of Vinh Long. The three case study communes selected were (1) Ward 2 of Vinh Long City, (2) Trung Thanh Tay, and (3) Trung Hiep communes of Vung Liem District.

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Figure 2.5: Location of case-study sites (non-scaled maps)

(extracted from http://maps.vietbando.com and combined by the author)

In terms of the natural conditions, Vinh Long has a flat topography, about 0.6-1.2m above the sea level. There have been no floods or drought naturally occurring in Vinh Long. As located in the tropical monsoon area, the Province has two different seasons, rainy and dry seasons, with an average annual average rainfall of about 1,600mm. On average, it receives about 9.5 sunshine hours a day, creating a mild condition of 270C, with an average humidity of about 80%. Like other traditional agricultural provinces, land is important to people for both residential and farming purposes.

The Province is one of the smallest provinces in the country. It covers an area of approximately 1,500 km2, and has a population of 1.04 million comprising approximately 265,000 households, with a density 685 people/km2. Of the population, the male share is 49.3%, and female is 50.7%. There are more than twenty ethnicities, with the Kinh people being the majority with 97.3%, the Khmer group about 2.1% (mostly living in four districts, Vung Liem, Tra On, Tam Binh, and Binh Minh), and other minority groups being 0.6% of the population. The literacy in Vinh Long is approximately 95%, higher than the average rate of the country - 93.4% (GSO, 2014; UNICEF, 2013; Vinh Long Portal, 2016a).

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Figure 2.6 presents some broad data and details about Vinh Long:

Figure 2.6: Vinh Long - at a glance (Vinh Long Portal, 2016a)

The Province is subdivided into eight district-level administrative units, comprising six districts, a town, and a city; and 109 communal-level administrative units, comprising 94 communes, 5 communal-level towns, and 10 wards (Vinh Long Portal, 2016a).

Three communal administrative units in two district administrative units were selected: (1) Ward 2 of Vinh Long City, (2) Trung Thanh Tay, and (3) Trung Hiep communes of Vung Liem District.

Vinh Long City is the political, cultural, and social centre of Vinh Long, covering an area of 48km2, with a population of approximately 150 thousand people (the female share being 48.73%). Vinh Long City is planned to be one of the four main cities of the Mekong Delta region in 2020.

Ward 2 is one of 11 communal administrative units of Vinh Long City. It is located in the central of Vinh Long City, covering an area of 1.53km2, with approximately 15 thousand people. The location of Ward 2 is shown as (1) in Figure 2.5. Vung Liem is a south-east district of Vinh Long. This district covers an area of approximately 309.6km2, and has a population of 161 thousand people (520 people/km2). Vung Liem has 20 communal-level administrative units, with one town and 19 communes. Except Vung Liem Town, which is an urban unit (level 4), the other 19 communes are agricultural units. In Vung Liem, Kinh people form the majority; with the Khmer people share a minor part.

Trung Thanh Tay commune is Vung Liem Town’s neighbour, with a rapid rate of urbanisation. Despite the fact that the majority of the land is agricultural land, it can be considered as a peri-urban commune due to the active urbanising process, which consists of the land use conversion, mostly from agricultural to residential land, land subsidising and transferring, as well as land recovery and compensation. Trung Thanh Tay covers an area of 12.6km2, with a population of around 6,000 people. The location of Trung Thanh Tay commune is shown as (2) in Figure 2.5.

Trung Hiep is an agricultural commune of Vung Liem District, covering an area of about 17.7km2, with a population of around 10,000 people. The location of Trung Hiep commune is shown as (3) in Figure 2.5.

This case study selection is in order to represent all three urban, peri-urban, and rural types of community. The administrative map of Vinh Long and land use maps of the three-mentioned selected communes are presented in Appendix 1.

2.7. Data collection

The case-study approach employed in this study includes three types: interviews of individuals, including experts and staff of government ministries, NGO, private companies, and academia; FGDs with groups of people at grassroots level, including three focus group discussion meetings with individuals, household, and civil society association representatives (land users); and surveys at grassroots level by means of questionnaires. The last two types of data collection were conducted at the grassroots level in the case study locations.

2.7.1. Semi-structured interviews

As one of the most common data collection methods used in human-related qualitative research, including social and geography studies (I. Hay, 2010), the semistructured interviewing strategy was selected for use in the present study due to the flexibility and expandability of questions for exploring the thoughts, beliefs, and opinions of participants (Dunn, 2010). This section presents the interviewing process conducted within this study.

To select interviewees, the investigator highly appreciated the participation and evaluated the roles of government staff at both central and provincial levels, as they are the main human resource working in policy-making departments and directly with the land users. The investigator recognised the roles of other stakeholders, including non-governmental organisations (NGOs), donors, academia, and the private sector. The author, finally, considered the roles of land users as the largest potential users of the land-related services and the SDI Land, and decided to approach these also for consultation.

Having consulted with the experts from the field of study, and based on the investigator’s working experiences, the stakeholders were identified to be approached for consultation in both policy and technical aspects. The following procedure was used for mobilisation of participants:

- Listing all the names of potential institutions, groups, and individuals;
- Grouping the parties related to type of stakeholders;
- Selecting the preliminary list of stakeholders having potentially strong influences over the research topics;
- Analysing these groups according to a set of priorities to explore the research problems;
- Making a short list of potential departments and interviewees;
- Sending research information package to potential interviewees by the third party to ensure the purely voluntary participation of people;
- Informing persons who agreed to participate of time and location for interviewing;
- Conducting interviews (brief, introduction, questioning, taking notes, recordings).

Table 2.1 presents the summary of stakeholders who were approached and agreed to participate in the research for interviewing and FGD. Those people who were approached but did not agree to participate are not mentioned in this research.

In summary, 12 senior staff from central government ministries, 10 technical and managerial staff from provincial level, 5 people from NGOs, donors, academia and the private sector, participated in the research as interviewees. Based on the design of the consultation process, the face-to-face individual interviews were firstly conducted in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Vinh Long.

Table 2.1: Summary of stakeholders approached for interviewing

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2.7.2. Semi-structured FGDs

An FGD involves a small group of targeted participants discussing a topic or an issue raised by an investigator. FGDs in social and geography research have been conducted since WWII in the US to collect information (Morgan, 1997). The techniques of FGDs range from group interviews, in which each participant is asked the same question in turn without or with only a little interaction amongst them, through to in-depth group meeting in which the focus is on the interaction between participants (Barbour, 2008). Within the present research, the medium level of FGD was used. The number of participants in each FGD meeting was 20 - larger than the normal size of an FGD meeting, of from 6 to 10 people each. However, having understood the cultural background, the investigator considers that the size of 20 participants is suitable within the context of the topics. This large number could also enhance the confidence of participants to provide information.

Having consulted with the heads of villages (as a third party), the procedure of selection of participants was as follows:

- Collecting the list of households in the case study;
- Making a short list of potential participants - 30 for each commune;
- Sending research information packages to potential interviewees by the third party to ensure the purely voluntary participation of people;
- Informing potential participants of time and location of meetings via the third party;
- Conducting discussions (brief, introduction, questioning, taking notes, recordings).

Prior to the meetings, the participants were informed that the audio recording was used. During the meeting, the investigator played a role as a facilitator to control the discussion by raising questions and topics and inviting people to share their ideas and thoughts.

At grassroots level, 63 land users, comprising individuals, households, village heads, and civil society association representatives, who were randomly selected and invited, participated in the three FGD meetings at the three communes of Vinh Long. The profile of FGD participants is presented in Table 2.2.


1 The other four are Hanoi, Hai Phong, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh City.

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A Policy Framework for a Provincial User-centric SDI to support Land Administration in Vietnam. Case study of Vinh Long Province
RMIT University
PhD (Geospatial Science)
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land administration, spatial data infrastructure, vietnam, land online, land registration
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Mau Duc Ngo (Author), 2016, A Policy Framework for a Provincial User-centric SDI to support Land Administration in Vietnam. Case study of Vinh Long Province, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/370355


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