The Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD) is currently under great impacts of rapid population growth and climate change. The rapid urbanization and industrialization together with the intensification of agriculture and aquaculture have resulted in environment and natural resources degradation of the area. The current issues could include:
(i) Degradation of land resources and (mangrove) forest resources;
(ii) Biodiversity degradation;
(iii) Surface water resources pollution and groundwater resources depletion; and,
(iv) Changes in flow characteristics leading to changes in flood characteristics, salinity intrusion, as well as morphological changes along the river bank and coasts.
In accordance with an actual need for human resources at different (management) levels trained in environment and natural resource management, the Department of Environment and Natural Resource Management was established under Decision 187/QD CTU (19/02/2008). The Department has continuously enhanced its human resources capacity to cover the main aspects of the environment and natural resources in the delta. By October 2012, the staff of the Department consists of 16 members (six of them are female), of which the number of lecturers and researchers with a PhD degree is 5 and with a M.Sc. degree is 10.
The main focuses of the Department in education and research are:
- Training of scientific and technical personnel with B.Sc. degree and M.Sc. degree in Environment and Natural Resource Management;
- Conducting fundamental and applied research as well as technology transfer in a number of areas, including:
(i) Planning for environmental protection and sustainable use of natural resources;
(ii) Community-based management of environment and natural resource;
(iii) Strategic environmental management and environmental impact assessment; and
(iv) Application of modelling (HEC-RAS, ISIS, Mike), Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote sensing in environment and natural resource management towards sustainable development for the Mekong Delta.
- Continuously developing human resource capacity through sending staffs to advanced education under short-term or long-term training programme (including M.Sc., PhD, post-doctoral) at specialized universities or institutes within Viet Nam or abroad;
- Enhancing research equipment and teaching facilities through the domestic and foreign investments; and,
- Consolidating and expanding relations and cooperation nationally and internationally to improve the quality of teaching, scientific research, consultancy and technology transfer.
TEACHING AND SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
The main tasks of the Department of Water Resources include:
- Training scientific and technical staff with graduate and postgraduate levels in the field of Natural Resources and Environmental Management.
- Conducting theoretical and/or applied studies as well as transferring technology in a variety of fields including (i) environmental protection planning and sustainable use of natural resources, (ii) community-based natural resource and environmental management, (iii) environmental impact assessment and strategic environmental assessment, (iv) application of numerical models (HEC-RAS, ISIS, Mike), Geographical Information System (GIS), and Remote Sensing in natural resources and environmental management towards the sustainable development in the Mekong Delta.
DEPARTMENT VISION- TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER- INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
- Updating partition maps of water resources management at different levels of spatial scale (plain, province levels,…) based on changes of surface water resources affected by the changes of hydrological conditions, irrigation infrastructure, and current land use. The obtained results will significantly contribute to sectoral development planning as well as master planning of Mekong Delta under the pressure of socio-economic development and global climate.
- Evaluating the impacts of change in the use of upstream water and sea-level rise on the characteristics of floods and saline intrusion in Vietnamese Mekong Delta. Due to the complication of river systems and irrigation structures, and the flow characteristics of the Mekong Delta, it is necessary to use numerical models to predict possible changes and assumptions of socio-economic development and environmental conditions. The results of these studies support the authorities at all levels for the Mekong Delta Master Plan.
- Downscaled and modified IPCC’s scenarios (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) for the Mekong Delta. Besides the impacts of surface water resources, agricultural and fishery activities in the Mekong Delta are significantly affected by rainwater resources. Under the climate change scenarios, projected precipitation is considerably changed in terms of space and time..
- Community-based monitoring of salinity of surface water in the Mekong Delta’s provinces. The management of water resources with multiple stakeholders helps to improve people’s awareness of ongoing surface water’s changes; Creating an abundant database system to assess the change of hydrological characteristics and water quality over time; An early warning system provides information as soon as possible through WEBGIS to help people mitigate negative impacts of the change.
- Assessing the impact of on-farm irrigation management and the changes of local hydrology conditions on the productivity of crops: Research and application of model tools to simulate the impact of water resources on crop productivity. On the basis of that research, the evaluation of the decline in production of the whole region is conducted when there are water-related risks such as droughts, floods, saline intrusion, or changes in water management processes. The results of the research significantly contribute to determining farming systems, farming techniques, or cropping calendars to fit with hydrological characteristics under the impacts of climate change in the future.
- Evaluating the impact of water resources on changes of farming system, and socio-economic conditions in different communities in the Mekong Delta: Knowledge of local people is very important for the assessment of the impact of changes of the farming system caused by the effects of water resources and socio-economic changes; Evaluation of the adaptability of local communities under the impact of changing natural conditions. Therefore, these studies are conducted to collect and share the information with local people and assist them in agricultural and fishery activities adapted.
- Researching on sustainable management of urban water in adaptation to climate change: The development of urban fosters the regional development in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta. However, urbanization also leads to many negative impacts, for example, the flooding of urban areas and freshwater demand concerns for both authorities and people living in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta.
Since the establishment of the Department of Water Resources, it transfers scientific and technical achievements gained through international cooperation research projects and research collaborated with provinces in the region. There are some scientific and technological products to be transferred:
- The technical process of evaluation of design and construction of water resources exploitation works.
- Process of integrated coastal management
- Monitoring technique of groundwater.
- Application of GIS in water resources management.
- Building database for water resources management.
- A numerical model for evaluation of current water resource conditions and future water resource changes under the impact of: (i) Changes in hydrological conditions and water demand in many locals; (ii) Climate change and sea-level rise; (iii) socio-economic development in the region.
- Measures of water environment protection, sewage water, and water supply management.
- Restoration of (degraded) water resources.
- Continuing to promote cooperative research projects on water resources with national and international research institutes or universities. There are several highly potential partners, as below:
- National organizations: Southern Institute of Water Resources Research, Southern Institute of Water Resources Planning, Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Soc Trang Province.
- International organizations: Institutes/colleges in European countries (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Denmark), Asian countries (Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Taiwan), countries in the Americas (United State), and Oceanian countries (Australia).
Nguyen Dinh Giang Nam, PhD
Head of Department of Water Resources.