Increasing water shortage, comprehensive measures required for water security


Over the past 50 years, demand for water for domestic and production use has increased three folds. There has been an increasing shortage of water, especially severe in drought years like 2016 and 2020 in the Mekong River Delta. In some areas, households have no access to tap water or hygienic/clean water. For example, nearly 100 households in Tân Minh commune, Sóc Sơn district, an outskirt area, about 30 kilometers from the center of Hà Nội, still use groundwater as a consequence of the absence of tap water. Although this water is filtered through a five-layer tank before use, it still has a fishy, pungent smell and the quality is not ensured. The reason is the local groundwater is contaminated by existing wastewater discharge sources in the area or nearby areas, i.e., domestic livestock and agricultural production and factories, Nam Sơn waste treatment complex. In addition, overexploitation of groundwater has also caused depletion of water resources, this occurs in both rural and urban areas. In the South of Vietnam, particularly in the Mekong Delta, drought and saline intrusion have resulted in severe water shortages, especially in dry seasons. Many residents had to travel far away to get clean water from water tanks supported by the state.

Some of the measures against water shortage include (1) constructing large-scale and inter-communal centralized clean water supply plants (e.g., Cà Mau province), (2) building dams to prevent salt intrusion and store water (e.g., provinces Tiền Giang, Long An). Additionally, experts advise applying groundwater recharge techniques and putting a limit on groundwater extraction in terms of location and volume.

Besides the approved master plan for water survey by 2030 and vision 2050 (released in March 2021) and other water planning projects, a national water security project by 2045 has been prepared and submitted to the Government by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MONRE). Some solutions proposed to ensure water security include: “strengthening and improving institutions, policies and financial mechanisms; attracting social resources to invest in the development of the water sector; improving the efficiency of management of water resources to ensure proactively supplying water for domestic and production purposes; improving degraded, depleted and polluted rivers, and sustainably developing aquatic resources and important wetland ecosystems, and ensuring water security for the environment”. Concerning water resources planning, improving water quality in the midterm is needed. However, in the long term, MONRE will enhance a mechanism to attract investment and resources to restore degraded rivers.

Sources & further information: “Drastic measures needed to ensure water security: MoNRE” at, “Tìm giải pháp, nỗ lực bảo đảm an ninh nguồn nước quốc gia” at, and “Residents struggle to live with polluted water” at, accessed on 8 April 2022.