Viet Nam | Climate Change
Climate Resilience through Modern Irrigation Systems
A pressurized piped irrigation system equipped with remote sensing technology promises to change the way farming is done in five provinces in Viet Nam. Supported by the Climate Change Fund and Netherlands Trust Fund, the irrigation systems will climate-proof farmlands and directly benefit more than 39,000 households, including over 7,000 ethnic minority households.
- ADB $100.3 million
- Viet Nam $23.2 million
- Financing Partner
- Netherlands Trust Fund under the Water Financing Partnership Facility $750,000
28 December 2018
Expected Partnership Results
The El Nino Southern Oscillation in 2014 to 2016 revealed Viet Nam’s vulnerability to climate change, particularly affecting the country’s south-central coastal and central highlands regions. Rainfall during the 2015 monsoon period was 40% to 70% below the long-term average but the following year, historical floods occurred. Many farmers, especially those relying on rain-fed surface water sources for irrigation, suffered significant income loss. Their harvests were reduced substantially, as about 60,000 hectares of crop lands were affected in the central highlands.
Water scarcity and economic factors prompted many farmers in these regions to grow high value crops (HVC), such as coffee, peppers, grapes, apples, dragon fruits, and mangoes that can withstand longer dry spells and more suited to the changing agroecological environment. Notably, an increasing number of farmers are adapting on-farm micro-irrigation practices such as drip or sprinkler systems. This means less cost for farmers because these systems need less manpower and electricity for pumping water.
However, their choice of crops and existing irrigation system were mismatched. Many existing irrigation systems were originally designed for rice and cannot be applied to HVCs. These existing systems lack the flexibility to provide the needed amount of water on demand. They are also less reliable and efficient, in part because of poor maintenance. They present challenges for water management, too, due to difficulties related to access control and enforcement of water allocation rules.
This mismatch was addressed by the Water Efficiency Improvement in Drought-Affected Provinces Project. Initiated by ADB through the collaboration of the Climate Change Fund and The Netherlands Trust Fund, this project will introduce an innovative solution: pressurized piped irrigation with remote sensing technology.
The pressurized piped irrigation system functions like domestic water supply systems. It provides water on demand through a system of hydrants and control valves. These give farmers greater flexibility to control the amount and duration of irrigation while simultaneously allowing operators to control and measure water use more effectively and to apply the correct water charges. Piped systems are also more resilient to extreme weather conditions and need less maintenance, thus making them more cost-effective.
Remote sensing technology modernizes this system further by providing farmers with real-time information on water productivity. Equipped with this technology, farmers can know the degree of their efficient use of the available water resources for their growing crops and can improve their on-farm irrigation scheduling with improved water productivity.
Viet Nam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development provides overall supervision and guidance in the implementation of the project at the national level through its Central Project Office. Five provincial committees in the five project sites take charge of activities in their own areas. To complement the modernization of the irrigation facilities, the project will provide farmers with training in on-farm water management to cope with climate variability. They will also be given technical advisory services to help them identify and develop the appropriate micro-irrigation systems that meet their needs.
The preparation of this project has already meaningfully brought development partners together. The component on the project preparatory technical assistance, funded by The Netherlands Trust Fund, provided an opportunity for stakeholders such as the Australian Water Partnership, UK Meteorological Office, IHE Delft, and the International Food Policy Research Institute to share and exchange knowledge. They shared technical designs that can provide farmers with a better level of service, assessed vulnerability to climate change, measured water productivity, and looked at the links between water and energy. These knowledge exchanges enriched the project design and helped meet the level of service needed by farmers while incorporating climate resiliency.
Though still ongoing, the project also complements initiatives by other development partners. A Green Climate Fund grant to be administered by the United Nations Development Programme will provide vulnerable smallholder farmers in the project area with improved access to water and capacity to adopt on-farm water management practices. A parallel technical support from the Government of Australia through the Australian Water Partnership will help improve water resource planning and management. These initiatives were developed in coordination with ADB and share the project’s expected outcomes.
Eight modern irrigation systems are now being set up in the provinces of Binh Thuan, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Khanh Hoa, and Ninh Thuan in Viet Nam. Once fully established, they will directly benefit more than 39,000 households, including 7,000 ethnic minority households. They are tailored to the needs of Viet Nam’s farmers, and a strategic fit to the country’s overall goal for the agriculture sector: sustained growth, improved efficiency, and competitiveness. They also support Viet Nam’s national climate change strategy that aims to ensure food and water security.
The project is not just modernizing irrigation in Viet Nam, it is also empowering farmers to protect their crops against extreme weather changes. The facilities give them sufficient control over their irrigation supply and make them active stakeholders in protecting natural resources severely threatened by climate change.