Challenges for water security in Central Highlands

09:24 | 17/08/2016 Science - Technology

(VEN) - The severe droughts for nearly a year due to El Nino phenomenon, together with unreasonable use of water and forest destruction, have affected local production and life activities.

Challenges for water security in Central Highlands

Duong Ngoc Duc from the Central Highlands Steering Committee’s Synthetic Division said that the rainy season ended earlier than usual last year and that the region recorded a 20 percent decrease in rainfall compared with the annual average. The rainfall during the period from December 2015 to February 2016 also decreased by 40 percent compared with the same period a year earlier, which reduced the amount of water in most local reservoirs from 15-35 percent compared with the annual average. More than 35 percent of local rivers and streams and about 40 percent of small lakes were out of water. Several reservoirs dedicated to irrigation and hydropower were filled just 30-40 percent of their designed capacity.

These droughts have destroyed some 179,000ha of crops worth VND5.43 trillion and left nearly 700,000 households in water shortage.

A workshop on water security and sustainable protection for socioeconomic development in the Central Highlands was held in Gia Lai Province on July 22. Held by the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands, People and Nature Reconciliation and Vietnam Rivers Network, the workshop , discussed water exploitation, forest floor variations, fluctuations in aquatic resources, and hydropower development opportunities and challenges.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Le Anh Tuan from the DRAGON Institute-Mekong-CTU pointed out the reasons for severe droughts in the Central Highlands, including forest destruction and  irrational management and use of water resources. Uncontrolled hydropower development over the past years has also adversely impacted local water security. According to the Vietnam Administration of Forestry, the Central Highlands lost more than 358,700ha of forest during the 2008-2014 period.

The inefficient irrigation system and limited awareness of local people are challenges for water resource management.

Subsequently, it is essential to continue seeking groundwater and creating a fund to support water for residents, while making survey on and a planning scheme for water resources in the region and building a master plan for irrigation development until 2020, with a vision to 2030.

One of key issues with water resource security in the Central Highlands is the restoration of lost forests . This is really a big challenge for local leaders as some of the deforested land was assigned for farming.


Hoang Anh Phuong