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PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH (PEER)
Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)


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

PI: Chau Nguyen Xuan Quang (cnxquang@wacc.edu.vn), Vietnam National University - Ho Chi Minh City, with co-PI Sangam Shrestha (sangam@ait.asia), Asian Institute of Technology
U.S. Partner: John Sabo, Arizona State University
Project dates: December 2019 - November 2022

Project Overview:

8-6 Team in the Field
The PEER team in the field prior to COVID (photo courtesy of Dr. Quang).
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:

From April through June 2021, Dr. Chau Nguyen Xuan Quang and his team continued to work on hydrological model calibration and validation. In addition, they collected and gathered additional data in Tra Vinh and Ben Tre provinces and finished planning for a training event and a workshop. Unfortunately, beginning in April 2021, Vietnam was hit with the fourth wave of the COVID virus, with particularly serious impacts in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta that in turn are affecting the project team’s ability to carry out their field surveys and stakeholder meetings. In the third quarter of 2021, they continued to carry out desktop work such as hydrological modeling, literature reviews, and data analysis. However, they have still not been able to organize the planned in-person kickoff meeting with their U.S. or Thai partners due to ongoing travel restrictions and quarantine requirements in Vietnam. They hope to organize a major project meeting in late 2021 or early 2022, but in the meantime they will continue collecting data and updating their hydrological model, climate change scenarios, and future groundwater demand scenarios for the Mekong Delta. A no-cost extension has been issued through November 2022 to allow time for all the postponed exchange visits and in-person events to be carried out.

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