Vietnam Vulnerable to Water’s Great Destructive Power.

Diep Nguyen

16:29 04/06/2019

BizLIVE -

With more than 70 percent of the population at risk from water-related natural disasters, it is one of the most hazard-prone countries in the East Asia and Pacific region

Vietnam Vulnerable to Water’s Great Destructive Power.
Prudent economic policies, combined with the enabling conditions created by a high endowment of water, have transformed Vietnam from a low income to a middle-income country within two decades. 
With annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) averaging about 6.4 percent over this period, Vietnam has experienced among the fastest—and most equitable— trajectories of development in the world. 
Rapid economic expansion has been accompanied by strong export growth, large inflows of investment, improved access to health and education services, and provision of life-sustaining piped water to cities. 
From the early 1990s, when over half the population lived on less than US$1.90 a day, the rate of extreme poverty has fallen to 3 percent—among the fastest declines in poverty ever recorded. This transition has made Vietnam the textbook exemplar of sound development approaches.
Vietnam’s abundant water endowment has shaped its development fortunes. With nearly 3,500 rivers of more than 10 kilometers (km) in length spread across 16 major river basins and with plentiful rainfall—almost 2,000 millimeters (mm) a year—the country is rich in water resources. Water features extensively in the country’s history, art, and traditions. 
Rivers have determined the location of settlements and cities, and they power the country’s industry. Their ample waters irrigate more than 4 million hectares (ha). A vast network of 7,500 dams stores and diverts water to thousands of irrigation schemes, making Vietnam one of the world’s rice baskets. 
Hydropower accounted for about 37 percent of electricity in 2018, with an installed generation capacity of about 17 gigawatts (GW), and planned to expand to 21.6 GW by 2020 and to 25.4 GW by 2030.
There are, however, risks inherent in the water resource. With about 10,200 cubic meters (m3) of renewable freshwater per capita, Vietnam’s water availability is high by regional and global standards, though these resources are unevenly distributed across the country and seasons. In addition, two-thirds of Vietnam’s water is transboundary and so is beyond its direct management. 
Vietnam is also vulnerable to water’s great destructive power. With more than 70 percent of the population at risk from water-related natural disasters, it is one of the most hazard-prone countries in the East Asia and Pacific region, with a growing pattern of alternating flood and drought. 
Vietnam aspires to become a modern, industrialized economy by 2035. The many achievements since the launch of the Doi Moi (Renovation) reforms have contributed to achieving this ambitious goal. But economic growth will need to adapt to become more resource efficient and to address the consequences of climate change. 
Unless decisive shifts are made, Vietnam will face serious threats as growth is held back by water shortages, businesses lose competitive edge as supply outages proliferate, farmers are kept poorer by low water productivity, floods and droughts destroy livelihoods, and the environment and people’s health are damaged by mounting levels of pollution.

DIEP NGUYEN

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