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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:

In his annual report submitted in January 2022, the PI Dr. Quang noted that his project activities were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic throughout 2021. No field trips or community activities could be implemented, and at times the project team had to work from home. Fortunately, they were able to continue their efforts to update their hydrological model and climate change scenarios. They also collected hydrological and socioeconomic data from 13 provinces and cities in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta. In addition, they met virtually with the Departments of Natural Resources and Environment of Tra Vinh, Ben Tre, and Can Tho provinces, and traveled to Hanoi to meet in person with several groundwater experts. The researchers also drafted two journal articles for submission. There were no educational impacts in 2021, but in the new year the PI expects some contributions from the project in the form of updates to the existing course curricula in the MSc programs at the Institute for Environment and Resources, Vietnam National University – Ho Chi Minh City, and the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT). If Vietnam relaxes its restrictions on incoming international travelers as has been reported in February, the project team plans to convene its kick-off meeting with the co-PI from AIT in March or April 2022 and organize their planned training seminar at some point from May through July. The seminar is expected to include the participation of the U.S. partners. 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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