JSI RESOURCES: Journal article

Bringing Sectors Together in Da Nang, Vietnam: Participatory Systems Mapping


The USAID-funded Building Healthy Cities (BHC) work in Da Nang, Vietnam, engaged 108 multi-sector stakeholders to gather qualitative data across two workshops and three citizen town halls from 2019 to 2021. These data were synthesized with the results from BHC’s seven other activities in Da Nang to build systems maps. Contextual findings showed that multi-sector, multi-level participation and collaboration have been the key to moving the city toward their smart and livable city goals. Currently, citizen, nongovernmental organization, and private sector collaboration are low for many government sectors, which results in policy and programs that are mismatched to actual needs and therefore have less powerful impacts. When these policies and programs are implemented, they struggle to demonstrate strong benefits to these stakeholder groups, further decreasing participation. This is central to the systems map that BHC developed and is expanded upon through additional patterns that fall within four main areas: management quality; vision and leadership; workforce capacity; and community engagement. Stakeholders found four key leverage points within this context that, if included in every action, could help overcome barriers. These leverage opportunities are: (1) investing at all levels; (2) improving function and innovation of information technology; (3) increasing participation and feedback; and (4) creating more responsive policy. As BHC concludes activities in Da Nang, local university students will be trained on systems mapping techniques to embed systems thinking skills into the next generation of workforce, and a set of recommendations will be developed to share with the government to act on these findings.

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