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Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)

Sustainable groundwater management under socioeconomic and climate change in Mekong Delta, Vietnam

PI: Chau Nguyen Xuan Quang (, Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City, with co-PI Sangam Shrestha (, Asian Institute of Technology
U.S. Partner: John Sabo, Arizona State University
Project dates: December 2019 - November 2020

Project Overview:

Located in the downstream of the Mekong River Basin, the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD) in southwest Vietnam is home to 18 million residents. VMD produces half of Vietnam’s rice and contributes a substantial part of the country’s GDP. In the delta region, groundwater is an essential and valuable resource, especial in coastal and remote areas. However, this resource is under threat due to over-extraction, drought, climate change, sea level rise, and other factors. Groundwater extraction has increased considerably to meet the demands of agriculture and aquaculture production and domestic and industrial water supplies. Upstream dry flow decrease coupled with drought and salinity intrusion has increased the demand for groundwater use recently. Climate change and rapid economic growth have possibly further intensified groundwater degradation in VMD. Against this backdrop, this project aims to (1) provide robust, science-based evidence on the combined impacts of socioeconomic factors and climate change on groundwater; (2) propose feasible adaptation options and implementation pathways for groundwater governance to help policymakers make concrete decisions; and (3) create a knowledge platform for involved stakeholders to exchange information, eventually facilitating the decision-making process. The research team will generate high-resolution future climate data using state-of-the-art Regional Climate Models to evaluate the impacts of climate change on groundwater in the near (2030s), mid (2050s), and distant (2080s) future. Socioeconomic data and plans will be used to analyze and estimate the existing and future groundwater demand in VMD. The feasible adaptation options and implementation pathways will be formulated by analyzing existing measures and their potential barriers and evaluated through the multi-modeling approach.

In addition to helping officials address the challenges of groundwater management, the team’s work should also contribute to foundational knowledge on the successful implementation of climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Planned training workshops and science-policy dialogue will strengthen the capacity of stakeholders related to groundwater management and use in VMD. The technical knowledge and regional experience of the U.S. partner should provide invaluable insights to the Vietnamese researchers in analyzing and commenting on the modeling results and the proposed adaptation measures and implementation pathways.  

Summary of Recent Activities:

COVID-19 has strongly impacted project activities during the first quarter of 2020. Although many activities such as updating the hydrological model and developing scenarios for climate change and future groundwater demand can be implemented in the office, the travel and social distancing limitations have impacted progress on data collection and in-person meetings. Only very limited face-to-face meetings with project partners and stakeholders were completed during this period, and most communications have taken place by phone or online. In particular, the PI and his team contacted officials from Ben Tre Province and other agencies for data collection.

For the next quarter, the schedule for project activities will require adjustment, depending on when and how restrictions on travel and public meetings are revised by the Government of Vietnam as the virus situation changes. If possible, the team hopes to hold their kickoff meeting in May. Also in the coming months, they plan to visit the Mekong Delta and contact other agencies for data collection to update their hydrological model, climate change scenarios, and future groundwater demand scenarios for Mekong Delta.

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