Ky Quang Vinh grew up in a riverbank neighbourhood of Can Tho city. Binh Thuy is the name of a small river that connects to the Hau River, where the flow is gentle “Binh Thuy is also the name of the land I loved to associate with my life.” Vinh still lives there today. He told us that he used to swim in the river, catch shrimps, and play with his friends when he was young.
He became a director of the center for environmental and resource observation of Can Tho after earning his master’s degree in environmental technology. “I think my turning point was when I became the director of the climate change coordination office in Can Tho.” He explained how he started off his career in the field of climate change resilience.
Since then he has actively supported a number projects of ACCCRN such as raising public awareness and capacity building for government officials, developing action plans for climate adaptation and conducting saltwater intrusion monitoring in Can Tho. The latter project has helped the authorities to detect salt intrusion in Ninh Kieu district of central Can Tho.
Through this opportunity, he told us about his research that specifically talks about water management in the Mekong Delta. As you might already know, Can Tho is the largest city in the Mekong Delta. Despite gaining benefit from its location at the heart of the delta region, at the same time Can Tho is facing a number of shocks and stresses, of which flooding is one.
In the past years, large scale developments of hydraulic and dam structures took place in the Vietnamese part of the delta in last decades. These structures enable a blocking of inundation in large parts of these areas, however these structures are frequently blamed for increasing water levels in the areas downstream.
“I think the key to climate change adaptation and the solution to risks posed by dams in the upper Mekong is good water management. It means to ensure sufficient supply of water to fulfill daily needs during a drought. At the same time, the dam could prevent and shorten the duration of the flooding.” Vinh said.
The Mekong River delta has two risks associated with water resources, namely droughts and floods. Climate change has caused more frequent and intense droughts and floods in the city. He continued “The Mekong Delta and Can Tho have two types of inundation: seasonal inundation, and urban inundation. Each type of inundation has different water sources and has different solutions.”
Vinh told us that natural or seasonal inundation, mostly at the end of rainy season, is usually caused by floodwaters from the Mekong as well as tidal waters. As the volume of floodwaters and tides increased, temporary storage (e.g. lakes, ponds, dams) could not prevent the floods anymore.
“Therefore it’s necessary to plan a system of dykes and sewers that can regulate water as desired. When the water level is normal, we open the sluice gate; when the water level is too high, we will close the sewer to protect people and crops.”
Furthermore, Vinh explained that urban inundation is caused by infrastructure development in the urban area. Rainwater, and also tidal water, can cause flooding of urban streets and houses, because the drainage system is either unsuitable or inadequate for water retention. “To solve urban inundation problem, we must build a proper rain water temporary storage and drainage system.”
Vinh added “Combining these measures will create a complete water management system, which can assist the community to minimize both droughts and flood risks. Can Tho should also consider reducing the use of groundwater to prevent land subsidence. Thus, a comprehensive water management system must consist of solutions to minimize the exploitation of groundwater.”
“It is difficult to say whether there is a major challenge in building adaptive capacity for Can Tho or any other locality as it is an integrated issue. In terms of economics, the GDP of Can Tho is quite low, so the financing for the response is the main problem. The absence of water works infrastructure to protect the communities, and avoid risks posed by water, is the key issue.” Vinh answered when he was asked about the greatest challenge that he has ever faced.
“Finally, in terms of the capacity of the community, the lack of understanding of all future challenges, including climate change and coping skills, is the most important issue. However, if the choice is to be made, I think the understanding and determination of the Government will be the most important challenge in the adaptation of Can Tho,” he concluded.
The main objective is to study and realize in practice what CC in CanTho city is; and, based on the result of this study, combined with the socio-economic status and the wishes of the local community to make the “Action plan to respond to CC during the period of 2015-2030”.
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