Japan, ADB to Help Viet Nam Improve Water Management, Irrigation Systems

News Release | 29 August 2008

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Japan and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are helping Viet Nam improve its water management and modernize its irrigation systems.

The Japan Special Fund, through ADB, will provide a $1 million grant to help design a project to upgrade the quality of water-related public services and improve the management of Viet Nam's water resources used for irrigation. For its part, Viet Nam will contribute staff, facilities and services equivalent to $250,000.

"The technical assistance will help Viet Nam increase the number of qualified water engineers, help the country better manage its irrigation systems, boost agricultural production, and increase farmers' income," said Dennis Ellingson, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist of ADB's Viet Nam Resident Mission.

The country faces growing demands on its water resources as a result of a rapidly growing economy and population. The agriculture sector, particularly crop irrigation, currently utilizes the vast majority of available water resources.

The project will support the government's five-year socio-economic development plan, which promotes sustainable economic development through increased agricultural production to ensure food security and exports, improved crop productivity, quality of high-value products, development of aquaculture, and reduced vulnerability to the impacts of floods and droughts.

It will also be in line with Viet Nam's national water resources strategy, which primarily seeks to protect, efficiently use, and promote the sustainable development of water resources through integrated management.

The technical assistance will provide detailed design for three components. The first component will support the upgrading of professional training facilities for water resource specialists at the Water Resources University (WRU), the only university that educates water engineers in Viet Nam. WRU has trained more than 18,000 engineers during its more than 50 years of operation, but the situation at the university has stagnated, with the training program, teaching method, and reference materials in need of innovations. Furthermore, the demand for water engineers is growing at an average annual growth rate of 4% owing to the rapid economic growth of the country. If WRU remains the sole source of water engineers, it will have to more than double its enrollment.

The second component will focus on modernizing the management of Bac Hung Hai, one of the oldest and largest irrigation and drainage systems in the country. The Bac Hung Hai system covers 192,045 hectares and serves 2.7 million people.

The third component will be the design of new infrastructure and upgrade of existing irrigation and drainage facilities of Bac Hung Hai. Given its importance to the economy and advanced state of disrepair, the rehabilitation of Bac Hung Hai is a top government priority.

Mr. Ellingson said that future implementation of the water management and irrigation systems rehabilitation project will cost an estimated $140 million.