Background About Our Work in Vietnam

About Vietnam

  • Viet Nam’s key river basins, i.e. the Red Thai Binh, Mekong, SERC and Dong Nai river basins, generate approximately 80% of Viet Nam’s GDP and will all face water stress in the dry season by 2030.
  • The agriculture sector uses 82% of Vietnam’s water but contributes merely 22% to the national GDP. Irrigation efficiency stands at only 68%.
  • Industry uses 16% of Vietnam’s water resources and contributes 39% of the GDP and is growing fast (at an estimated 7% in 2016).
  • Only 10% of the municipal and industrial wastewater treated, Viet Nam’s surface waters face serious pollution issues, with many rivers in and around major cities considered ‘dead rivers’ – thus, even increasing groundwater dependence and over-extraction.

Water challenges

Vietnam has sufficient water to support its population. However, due to the uneven spatial and temporal distribution of precipitation, there are water scarce areas and flood prone areas. Climate change is expected to exacerbate the water challenges

  • The water basins generating 80% of the country’s GDP are expected to face water stress in the dry season by 2030 (See figure 1).
  • Surface water is seriously polluted in urban and industrial areas, while groundwater suffers from saline intrusion. Over-exploitation of groundwater results in groundwater depletion, land subsidence and riverbank erosion, especially in Red River, Mekong River Delta, where 50% of Viet Nam’s rice is produced, and in the Central Highlands, where 88% of Viet Nam’s coffee is grown.
  • Rapid expansion of hydropower in Viet Nam causes water sharing conflicts and issues related to dam safety, potentially worsening water stress in the dry season.
  • Natural disaster events (droughts, floods) are increasing in frequency and severity, impacting livelihoods and agricultural production.

Figure 1: Water exploitation index (WEI) for Viet Nam’s four key economic river basins