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Vietnam Today

Workshop discusses water security

Released at: 16:47, 30/05/2019

Workshop discusses water security

Photo: WB

MoNRE and WB co-host workshop on "Towards a Safe, Clean and Resilient Water System".

by Doanh Doanh

The “Towards a Safe, Clean and Resilient Water System” workshop was held in Hanoi on May 30, co-hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) and the World Bank (WB) in Vietnam.

Stakeholders as well as international and domestic experts participated, discussing key points such as ensuring future water security in Vietnam, which depends on meeting a host of critical challenges including emerging water stress, fast deterioration of water quality, and rising water-related disaster risks, resulting in a pressing need to identify and introduce solutions.

The workshop also discussed how the rapid increase in water demand will lead to water stress during the dry season for eleven of Vietnam’s 16 river basins by 2030. There is also growing competition and needs among multiple sectors for water, against a backdrop of worsening water quality. Climate change exacerbates water challenges, posing an additional need to manage water effectively.

“Pressures from population growth, economic growth, and increasing water demand have put water resources at risk of depletion,” said Mr. Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment. “These pressures will result in unsustainable development unless water resources are managed in a uniform and coordinated way and shared and used reasonably and effectively.”

A newly-completed WB study discusses in-depth how Vietnam can manage its water resources in a sustainable manner and suggests policy actions and the roles the public and private sector can play in effective and sustainable water management.

“Unless decisive steps are taken, water, which has been a driving force behind Vietnam’s rapid growth, will become a brake on development,” said World Bank Country Director for Vietnam, Mr. Ousmane Dione. “Early actions will ensure that water remains a key ingredient for Vietnam’s growing prosperity.”

The WB study recommends improvements in governance, management, and financing of water resources, including the strengthening of institutions for development and enforcement of regulations. It also advocates for an integrated approach of water management at the basin level and creating incentives to pollute less and use water more efficiently. Furthermore, disaster response and resilience against escalating floods, acceleration of riverine and coastal erosion, sea level rises, and land subsidence need to be improved. Improving the quality of public spending and encouraging private finance is imperative to broaden funding sources for improvements in water management.

The study identifies water pollution as the greatest threat and which could cost Vietnam up to 3.5 per cent of GDP annually by 2035. Urban development, the discharge of untreated industrial wastewater, and the use of agricultural fertilizers and pesticides are placing unrelenting stresses on water bodies. According to data from the Ministry of Construction, only 46 per cent of urban households have connections to drainage systems and only 12.5 per cent of domestic wastewater is treated, not to mention untreated wastewater from industrial facilities outside industrial zones. This compromises water quality and related ecosystems.

It suggests strengthening and enforcing regulations to create incentives to improve water quality along with use of cost-effective solutions to control pollution. It also sheds light on the low productivity in water usage, particularly in the agriculture and aquaculture sectors, which account for 92 per cent of Vietnam’s water use. There are opportunities to use water more productively, such as switching to crops and irrigation systems that earn “more income per drop” while saving water, reducing water usage through the use of innovative technology, and having appropriate price mechanisms to create incentives for the efficient and productive use of water.

The WB appreciates its partnership with the Vietnamese Government on water management and will work closely with the stakeholders in the country to provide assistance in implementing the recommendations of the study as appropriate, to promote the effective and sustainable management and usage of water resources against the backdrop of climate change.

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