Challenges of water resources management for downstream livelihood of the lower Mekong delta, VietNam

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Challenges of water resources management for downstream livelihood of the lower Mekong delta, VietNam

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Water is possible our most precious natural resources. Abundance and quality of water drivers all human systems and those of most other organisms as well (Isobel W.Hathcote, 1998).

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Nội dung Text: Challenges of water resources management for downstream livelihood of the lower Mekong delta, VietNam

  1. CHALLENGES OF WATER RESOURCES MANAGEMENT FOR DOWNSTREAM LIVELIHOOD OF THE LOWER MEKONG DELTA, VIETNAM Tran Thi Trieu1*, Le Anh Tuan1**, Mira Kakonen2 1 Department of Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (DEWRE) College of Technology (CoT), Can Tho Unversity (CTU) Campus II, 3/2 street, Can Tho City, Vietnam Corresponding e-mail: *, ** 2 Water Resources Laboratory, Helsinki University of Technology Tietotie 1E, 02150 Espoo, Finland --- oOo --- Abstract The Lower Mekong River Delta (MD), in Vietnam, covers nearly 4 millions hectares and currently supports more than 17 million people living along main rivers and canals and other water bodies. The MD is considered as the country’s most productive agricultural and aquaculture area. Any change in upstream of the Mekong River effects sensitively to the livelihood of people in downstream. A survey on challenges to which downstream grass-level people faces for their water resources management was taken in a downstream district of Tien Giang province. Water related problems were raised, ranked and finally recommendations for solution are given. The most water problem effecting to local livelihood is the polluted water from upstream users. The water resources management for this area needs a coordination among many related organizations in many levels, supports of national legislation as well as the regional and provincial water resources planning. Key words: challenges, Mekong Delta, livelihood, water-related problems. 1. Introduction Water is possible our most precious natural resources. Abundance and quality of water drivers all human systems and those of most other organisms as well (Isobel W. Hathcote, 1998). The MD is really a big rice bowl of Vietnam and an important aquatic and transportation resources of the delta people. It thanks to abundant water resources with alluvium in large scale and complex irrigation canal systems of the Mekong River. Yet, over the past ten years, protection and management of water resources for sustainable livelihood of lower MD population encounters many challenges, especially in downstream areas. The objectives of this study is to understand more the impacts of water to life and the challenges in water resources management to the downstream people whose livelihood are strongly depended on the Mekong River. Tien Giang (figure 1) is located to the north of the Mekong Delta, alongside the Tien River. It is bordered on the north by Long An; on the south by Vinh Long and Ben Tre; on the east by Ho Chi Minh; on the west by Dong Thap. The provincial area is 2,367 sq. km, with population of 1,392,300 habitants (2004) and My Tho City is the provincial capital. In term of water 1
  2. resources, Tien Giang is divided into 2 parts: the East and the West. The East part is effectted by saline intrusion, high tide and embankment erosion while the West part is effectted by flood in the high tide periods. Nowadays, the West is also influenced by saline intrusion. There are many concerns from local government and people on problems related to water. Most of them are water quality and low flow from upstream which are the reason of serious saline instruction and give downstream more challenges for water resources management. Figure 1: Research site map in the Mekong River Delta 2. Material and method The survey was carried out at 4 levels including province, district, commune leaders and local farmers. The method based on Participatory Rapid Appraisal (PRA) and Rural Rapid Appraisal (RRA). At the province, district and commune levels, key informants from Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD), Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE), Women's Union, Youth's Union were invited for interviewing. At the grass root level, two groups of 15-20 farmers took parts in group discussion. To reach the objectives of the study, mapping, semi-structure checklists, problems ranking were applied. The result of survey was reported again to get feedback from four levels. The information correctly reflected the situation and was the basis for water conservation. In additional, there were 5-6 private interviews of farmers to confirm and deeply understand farmer‘s problems and aspiration on water conservation for their livelihood improvement. 3. Result and discussion 3.1 Livelihood structure In reality, Tien Giang province is considered as possible gateway from Ho Chi Minh City to the center of the MD, the livelihood of people in Tien Giang mainly depends on agriculture and aquaculture, some from handicraft industry and tourist. The province is facing big challenges as its economic figures are lower than the Delta region’s average. 3.1.1 Rice cultivation Rice cultivation plays an important role in agriculture development of Tien Giang. Double or triple crop rice is cultivated in the West and East. Cai Be and Cai Lay districts have biggest 2
  3. area and yield of rice. Go Cong saline intrusion Control Project which protects 54,700 ha including 30,000 ha of rice, 7,000 ha of fruit help brings more income to local farmers. Farmer can increase rice to two or three crops per year thank to the full dyke system. However, the yield of the third crop is still low in Go Cong district. Go Cong local government planed to turn to double crop. Many farmers refer to transfer rice to water melon but they still concern about unstable price. 3.1.2 Fruit trees Tien Giang is a traditional fruit tree area of the MD. It is famous by many kind specific fruit such as Ngu Hiep durian, Hoa Hung citrus and Go Cong Dong water melon and cherry. Most of fruit gardens are located between the National Road and the Tien river. Mango which used to stand in almost coastal areas is transfer to water melon with higher profit despite unstable market. In recent years, climate change causes fruit damage. Hoarfrost limits fruit formation of mango. Drought leads to decrease of longan yield. 3.1.3 Aquaculture Clam cultivation becomes popular in 1990s. Before this period, only farmers from Ben Tre province raised clam. Nowadays, many local farmers do this business. According to local farmer, to be successful in clam cultivation, farmer should be in groups which help to mobilize big capital, save labor for taking care and protecting clam from the thief. Recent time, clam cultivation faces to clam death without reason. Many farmers consider that the clam died by polluted water from upstream, others think that is by sedimentation. The losses of clam stocks were one of the biggest problems in the coastal area. The reason for the losses was unknown and this creates a lot of frustration in the area. Extensive shrimp cultivation was started in 1997 with one crop per year, small area. After 2001, shrimp pond area was extended. According to farmers, before 2001, shrimp never or not much got diseases. They recently have been died by serious polluted water which is result of intensive shrimp cultivation and discharging waste water from shrimp ponds to canals and rivers. Farmer emphasized that shrimp need clean water resources. The waste water from shrimp ponds should be treated before discharged to water bodies. Fish is daily food sources of local people. Fishes are raised in canals around houses or inside the gardens. 3.2 Challenges of water resources management for downstream livelihood Main livelihood sources of downstream people in Tien Giang are rice and aquaculture which rely on water resources from upstream. The scarcity and unequal access to water resources have been challenges to address in Tien Giang, especially downstream as Go Cong Dong area. 3.2.1 To limit saline intrusion in the East of Tien Giang Saline intrusion in the area is increasing which causes damage for rice and aquatic resources in the area. During dry season, when Mekong flow decreases, seawater flows up through network of waterways. Of 3.9 million hectares Mekong Delta, up 2.1 million ha affected salinity seawater each year (Fiona Miller, 2000). In 2003, Go Cong Dong district lost 471 ha of rice, in 2004 lost 860ha of rice and 326 ha of aquaculture. The year 1998 was dry year. In 2005, saline water intrusion reached to 70-80 km along the Mekong River. As forecast of Division of Water Resources Institute, the saline intrusion (4g/l) will reach to 10-12 km from upstream. (Tien 3
  4. Giang DARD, 2004). The reasons of increasing saline intrusion are reduced upstream flow and wind from the sea during dry season. Several development interventions in the Mekong River Basin have contributed to increase saline intrusion, reducing dry season flow, expanding affected saline intrusion area where double, triple cropping rice depend on dry season flow volume. The table 1 shown that the more effect by saline intrusion (located nearer the sea) the lower rice yield. Districts in table 1 are ranged from the West to the East. Table 1: Rice yield (tan/ha) of district from the West to the East Year Cai Lay Chau Thanh Go Cong Tay Go Cong Dong 2000 5.237 4.358 4.338 4.143 2001 5.236 4.709 4.203 4.082 2002 5.271 4.699 4.620 4.486 2003 5.489 4.863 4.551 4.305 (Source: Reports of Tien Giang DARD, 2004) To limit saline intrusion in this area is challenge because it depend on upstream flow and water control systems of other districts and provinces. Forest plays an important role of storing water. Deforestation upstream and throughout region impact on dry flows. 3.2.2 Secure water quantity and quality for agriculture and aquaculture In MD, water is basic of life for millions of people to whom water provides directly or indirectly the source of livelihood. The Mekong immense water resources are one of the key factors for social and economic development in the region (Marko, 2004). Fresh water depends on discharged water from upstream. There is no water management officers, every one freely pump water as much as they need. Therefore, the water shortage for downstream is can not to be avoid. Water quality problem is particularly bad around Go Cong area. Pollution is from domestic sources, from livestock and agriculture. Tan Thanh commune where is located at the lowest downstream both faces the poor water quality from upstream and saline intrusion. Among discussing villages, there were concerns expressed about the water quality. According to them shrimp rising is very risk because poor water quality. Using chemicals to kill yellow snail as well as chemical fertilizer, pesticides in rice production polluted water resources. Some farmers thought that one of reasons causing losses of clam stocks and clam death was worsen water from upstream. Farmers informed that natural clam stocks were disappeared from Ong Mao island without reasons. Farmers said that, if the cause of clam death is sedimentation, they can overcome this problem by moving clam to other raising areas. They will succumb if that cause is poor water quality. They wish local government and scientists to analyses water in different seasons, to find the reason of clam death and giving them advices. Because of downstream location, improvement of water quality is big challenge of people in Tien Giang 3.2.3 Ensure clean water for domestic use Access to drinking water is the first priority for the use of water. However, on quarter of the world’s population is without access to safe drinking water and half of the population is without access to adequate sanitation (Danida, 2000). In the East of Tien Giang, Go Cong area, one third of domestic water is from ground water, the rest is from surface water of Cua Tieu River mouth. In Tan Thanh commune, most of water using for domestic is surface water. There is no ground water source. Local people collect rain water for drink in the dry season. The 4
  5. remote families always lack of fresh water. Capacity of rural water supply is too small to meet water demand. People are still very poor while the cost for constructing water supply system is expensive. Many household directly pump water from river, after some hours of simple treatment (flocculated by alum), use for domestic purpose. Potential worsening resource competition between upstream and downstream communities delta results agro-chemical pollution increased abstraction water. Down stream communities would affect worsening water quality, disturbance acid sulphate soil, increased use agro-chemicals of upstream. The pollution of surface and ground water will increase the scarcity of fresh water throughout affected areas. A decreases availability of household water will result disproportionate impacts on women’s health due decline of sanitation conditions (Fiona Miller, 2002). 3.2.4 Decrease damage of erosion Erosion has been very strong in the coastal areas, caused mainly by tidal fluctuation, storms, possibly also because of the destruction of mangrove forest. Many farmers lost their land by erosion. Recent 15 years, the erosion becomes serious. For example, Mr. Thuong in Tan Thanh commune lost 3000m2 of his land. The 100m wide area of his custard apple has fall down into the sea. The lost area is equal area of Tan Phu village. The reason of bank erosion is by river flow. Erosion side of river is along villages of Tan Thanh, Tan Thien. Dyke erosion happened in Dong My, Thanh Phu, Tan Phuoc. From December to January, strongest erosion is happened when the high tides meet the south-east winds (the wind blows in the opposite river flow direction). Many Tan Phu villagers have to buy land inside the dyke; lost-landed farmers have to move to other place for their livelihood. 3.2.5 Balance between flood control and utilization of natural fertilizer brought by the Mekong River system The effected area of Tien Giang province is north from the National Road. North-East Tien Giang (Tan Phuoc district) has highest flood because this area is lower lying than surrounding area, tidal influence from three different directions. Rapid flooding often wash away crop. Severe flooding has increased over past 10 years. Unpredictable, big magnitude flood has been responsible for high human, material cost, especially farmers located in the areas where flood water reaches the depth of 2-4 meters. The flood of 2000 caused losses of 2150 ha of rice, decrease of rice yield from 60 to 70 percentages. In the year of 2002, 70 villages and 11.120 ha of fruit trees in Tien Giang were flooded (DARD report, 2000, 2002). However, the annual flood brings great benefits to farmers and fishers, depositing an estimated 79 million tons silt on farmer’s fields (Fiona Miller, 2000). Large flood are often followed bumper crop yields, large fish catches because of increased abundant nutrient silt. How to compromise flood control and utilization natural fertilizer from Mekong River is the question of both local people and government in Tien Giang. 3.3 Recommended solutions for water resources management 3.3.1 Ranking problems and recommended solutions by local people The main concern in the village level was the water pollution. Because of location at the end of stream, local people suffered more and more difficulties related to water quality which give their livelihood more challenges. They pointed out some main reasons for poor quality of water and give recommendations. Similarly, the solutions for other water related problems were suggested. Below tables describes problems ranked by villagers as well as reason and solutions for them. 5
  6. Table 2: Ranking water problems in Tan Thanh commune, Go Cong Dong district Water problem Ranked Main reasons Commented solutions Water pollution 1 Polluted from upstream + Water quality management in Argo-chemical upstream area Livestock, domestic + Applying ‘3 ups, 3 downs’ (rising waste up the yield, the effectiveness and the qualify and decreasing down the seed, the fertilizers and the pesticides) + Improving community awareness + Zoning agriculture and aquaculture areas for management Saline intrusion 2 Reduction of flow from + Coordination in Water management upstream of upstream and downstream Water shortage for 3 Poor water quality + Improving community awareness agricultural and Low flow from + Develop water supply system domestic use upstream Erosion 4 High tidal + strong wind + Limit deforestation Mangrove deforestation + Reinforce and manage dyke system Local people considered awareness rising as one of the most important elements in creating stakeholder participation. Raising awareness is a long term and complicated process, and targeting dissemination programs at specific groups, such as children and youth, can therefore make an important contribution (Danida, 2000). 3.3.2 Water resource planning and management of Tien Giang province Aiming balance and sustainable using water resources, Tien Giang province concentrated to 4 key issues in water resources planning and management (Tien Giang DARD, 2004). a) Flood control at 4 districts (Cai Be, Cai Lay, Tan Phuoc, Chau Thanh) in the West part of province in which priority absolute protect fruit tree and pine apple area; b) Prevent saline intrusion and ensure to supply enough fresh water for cultivation and domestic use in Bao Dinh and Tan Thoi area; c) Ensure to supply enough fresh water for cultivation and domestic use for Go Cong area d) Solve erosion of Tien river bank at high density population areas. To implement flood control, Tien Giang province needs to coordinate with other provinces of the Mekong Delta. The reduction of water resources in the dry season leading to serious saline intrusion needs to be monitored and given proper solutions. A synchronize study for the sustainable development of the whole Mekong Delta is necessary and combined with water programs in the Mekong Delta. 4. Conclusion and recommendations Water is a part of the life. Water regulates population growth, influences world health and living condition and determines biodiversity (Newson, 1992). For thousands of years, people have tried to control flow and quality of water. Sustainable water management (SWM) should not only control the water resources towards the present needs but also consider water-related 6
  7. problems in the future (Tuan, 2004). The challenges over which people in the research area have to overcome for their livelihood development connected to water: poor water quality, water scarcity, saline intrusion, flood, they are obstacles to develop the livelihood structure. The livelihood of downstream people mostly depends on water use and management of upstream ones. The poor water quality is biggest problems which directly impact to local people’s daily life. Increasing awareness of water management of people whose life rely on the Mekong river plays an important role in water quality improvement. Compromise of water usage of upstream and downstream requests the coordination between local people and government at all levels, between provinces, countries in the Mekong Basin. 5. Acknowledgements Authors would like to say sincerely thanks the WUP-FIN project for survey funding support and staff members of DEWRE/CoT in CTU for their help on research. We are also not forgetting that this research cannot finish without the closed collaboration of the Tien Giang province, district leaders and farmers. 6. References DANIDA, (2000). Water Resources Management. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark Fiona Miller (2000). Environmental threats to the Mekong Delta Watershed. Probe International Go Cong Dong district’s People Committee, Tien Giang province (2004). Reports on implementing water resources and agriculture yearly plan. Tien Giang, Vietnam Isobel W. Hathcote (1998). Integrated watershed management. John Wiley & Sons. Inc. Marko Keskinen (2004). The Lake with Floating villages: A socio-economic analysis of the villages around the Tonle Sap Lake, Proceeding of the Workshop on Integrated Water Resources Management on Tonle Sap Lake, 1-2 February 2004, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Newson, Malcolm (1992). Water and sustainable Development. Journal of Environmental planning and Management 25, pp. 175-183 Tien Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (2004), Tien Giang water resources and agricultural master plan to 2010 related to co-operated and development programs in the Mekong Basin Tien Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (2005). Reports on implementing water resources and agriculture yearly plan. Tien Giang, Vietnam Tuan, L.A., G.C. L. Wyseure , L.H. Viet (2004). Sustainable water management for rural development in the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam. The 2nd International Symposium on Southeast Asian Water Environment (Poster presentation), Hanoi, Vietnam 7
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