Integrated Water resources Management in Vietnam

The research project in Vietnam analyses increasing problems in drinking water supply and sanitation in three different regions in Vietnam. Concepts and instruments for an IWRM approach are developed. The focus of the project lies in the development of a planning and decision support tool (DSS) together with Vietnamese partners.

Background and Objectives

The objective of the joint 'IWRM Vietnam' project is the developmentof a concept for integrated consideration and analysis of water management issues (water resources, water demands, water and land use) with a view to formulate recommendations for IWRM measures. The project involves two objectives:

  • Development of planning and decision support tools for IWRM at river basin level,
  • Adaptation of water technology on local level (drinking water, municipal and industrial wastewater) based on exemplary individual measures.

Main Results

A planning level concept with planning and decision support tools was developed for water resources management in the three project regions (Can Tho, Lam Dong, Nam Dinh). The planning level concept contains the following five levels. The IWRM Vietnam joint project involves tasks defined in planning level 3 (river basin level) and planning level 5 (local level).

1) International level
International scientific discussion; sharing international experience; guidelines for IWRM (e.g. Global Water Partnership)

2) National level
Identification by the Vietnamese authorities of river basins with high problem intensity and a priority need for IWRM measures; legislation (e. g. National Target Program Water; technical and water quality standards; implementation of River Basin Organizations (RBOs) etc.)

3) River basin level
Identification of Water Management Units causing special concern ('hot spots') and in need of high-priority IWRM measures by means of GIS-based evaluation of spatial and statistical information

4) Water Management Unit (WMU) level
Identification of locations for IWRM measures by means of detailed investigations (e.g. field investigation of water balances, water quality, wastewater quantity etc.)

5) Local level
Object planning and implementation of IWRM measures (e.g. monitoring, water supply, waste water treatment) for priority areas as identified on planning levels 3 and 4

Planning and decision support tools have been developed for the evaluation of water resources on the river basin (planning level 3). They facilitate the identification and prioritization of WMUs with increased problem intensity in terms of quantity (deficit) or quality (contamination risk). High-risk WMUs require more detailed investigations and careful selection of locations for measures.The identification and categorization of such WMUs is carried out using three planning and decision support tools: the Water Balance Tool, the Contamination Risk Tool and the Ranking Tool.The Water Balance Tool connects the hydrological and socio-economic information required for the water balance.The various types of demand for water and the available water resources are compared with each other at WMU level.The Water Balance Tool allows for estimation of the water balances for the individual WMUs and of the monthly or yearly water deficits and water surpluses.

The Contamination Risk Tool is used to assess the contamination risk for water resources (ground and surface water) from different contaminants. Three possible contamination paths are taken into consideration:

  • Infiltration of contaminants into the groundwater
  • erosive runoff and / or erosive discharge of contaminants into bodies of surface water
  • direct discharge of contaminants into bodies of surface water

The Ranking Tool is used to prioritize the results from the Contamination Risk Tool and the Water Balance Tool. These rankings help to identify WMUs with increased problem intensity and increased need for action. The results of the IWRM Vietnam joint project are explained and illustrated in the 'Method Handbook for IWRM in Vietnam on River Basin Level' and in the 'IWRM Atlas – Planning Maps and Tables'.


The planning and decision support tools were developed in close cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (Department of Water Resources Management, MoNRE DWRM) in Hanoi as well as with the provincial authorities of the three project regions, taking Vietnamese legal requirements into account. Training courses have been held at national and local levels. The Vietnamese partners have already expressed the need for additional and more systematic training courses on the planning and decision support tools. Individual local pilot measures were developed and applied in the three project areas, for example a web-based GIS for displaying the quality of surface waters (Can Tho) or the drinking water treatment and supply plant in Hoa Bac (Lam Dong Province).

The next phase is to be focussed on the largest river basin within Vietnam, the Dong Nai basin. The Dong Nai river basin includes examples of all the various water management challenges such as drinking water treatment, agricultural contamination potential, industrial wastewater discharge, saltwater intrusion in the coastal area, conflicts of interest (hydropower reservoirs, requirements for natural conservation in national parks, resources exploitation etc.).

Methods for the detailed investigation of WMUs with higher problem intensities and therefore a greater need for IWRM measures are to be developed. Seen as a whole, this holistic concept allows for efficient and cost-effective approaches to be adopted towards initiating and implementing IWRM in a systematic way at all planning levels.

Language Versions


  • Ruhr-University of Bochum, Faculty for Civil Engineering, Unit Environmental Engineering and Ecology

    • Prof. Dr. Harro Stolpe (Project Coordination)
    • Universitätsstraße 150
    • 44801 Bochum
    • Telephone: +49 234 32-27995
    • Fax: +49 234 3214-701
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