Since 1986, with the shift from communism to market socialism, Vietnam has undergone massive economic, social, and spatial changes. These changes can be witnessed in its major cities as new economic opportunities drive urban migration. With the process of metropolisation and the growth in population in Hanoi, the volume of waste is increasing rapidly. Waste collecting (buying/picking) and selling scrap recyclable material, have become important informal businesses among peri-urban villagers.
Recycled waste collection is an ancient activity done by « đồng nát » (junk buyers). Most of them are circular migrants who go door to door to buy recycled waste from households. Even posh wards are surrounded by “bãi”, precarious and temporary waste depots, where more than 10,000 đồng nát go and sell their recyclable material. They collect around 20% of the total recycled waste of the capital through a large network of waste collectors, organised through an old migratory chain, originating from the coastal Province of Nam Dinh. They resell the waste to junk-buyers settled in 800 waste depots spread all over the city, whose rental status is uncertain.
This presentation aims to shed light on the different actors in charge of waste-management, the way they operate, and highlight the main challenges of the sector. The public service currently provided in the city of Hanoi, by semi-public and private stakeholders, will be analysed in all their components, formal and informal. The objective of this presentation is to also analyse on several scales (urban district, ward, and the catchment area of bãi) the strategies developed by the depot receivers and junk buyers to capture the growing demand for collection and storage of waste throughout the city. We will try to show how they adapt to the urban restructuring of the city, the skyrocketing land prices in the city and how they interfere in the shortcomings of the municipal policy.
The presentation combines several perspectives (longitudinal, spatial, social and political) to offer new perspectives to understand the various aspects of the urban processes in Vietnam: the top-down policy of the state and the municipal authority and the bottom-up one through everyday urban practices of migrants and inhabitants of the burgeoning urban villages. We will demonstrate how the booming informal economy of waste recovery is territorially integrated in the city and relies on several conditions: the flexibility and fluidity of relationships between cities and the country-side (migration, recycling of waste in craft villages and livestock villages, investment of urban remittances to the rural economy), the land vulnerability of waste receivers and junk-buyers and the negotiations between the informal and formal actors and the local authorities. We will try to analyse how the contradictions of the city's modernization policy contribute to the dynamism of this informal system that interferes in the shortcomings of territorial control.
Marie Lan Nguyen Leroy holds a Ph.D. in Public law on Land law in Vietnam from the University Panthéon-Assas Paris II. She is currently the Project Manager at Paris Region Expertise - Center for urban studies, Hanoi.
Thai Hoa Nguyen is a member of the JEAI RECYCURBS VIET, a joint research team between the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development and Hanoi Architectural University.
Nguyen Thai Huyen is an architect and holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from the University of Bordeaux. She is heading the JEAI RECYCURBS VIET, a joint research team between the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development and Hanoi Architectural University. She currently holds the position of Lecturer, Education, Deputy Head, Division of Landscape-Architecture responsibility in Hanoi Architectural University, 2011.
This workshop is free and there is no registration required. Find all the available videos of our previous workshops, here.
This is the hundredth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Olivier Telle of CSH at email@example.com, Partha Mukhopadhyay at firstname.lastname@example.org or Marie-Hélène Zerah at email@example.com