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Shortage of clean water in Vietnam

Vietnam as well as other countries in the world are facing climate change, running out of energy resources, especially water. According to research, about 20% of the population in Vietnam does not have access to clean water.


Pollution at water source

The situation of water pollution is at a red alert level, especially in Asia, the centre of the 21st century factory industry. Vietnam is no exception, as the situation of environmental pollution in general and water pollution in particular is happening at an alarming rate all over the country. In big cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city, one of the typical problems is the situation of rivers and lakes being polluted seriously. As in Hanoi, due the process of urbanisation, the four main rivers in the heart of the capital are gradually "dead" due to serious pollution, as the river and lake system is increasingly polluted, the water is black, the garbage is floating and there is strong, unpleasant smell.


Not only in big cities, rural water sources in Vietnam are also seriously polluted. One of the main reasons is the impact of wastewater generated by industrial plants in river basins. Every year, Vietnam discharges about 84.5 million tons of waste into the environment, of which 80% is untreated, leading to the pollution of underground water system.


In addition, it is necessary to mention the impact of agricultural production on clean water sources. Annually, Vietnam's agricultural industry consumes about 11 million tons of fertiliser, of which rice cultivation accounts for 65% of total fertiliser consumption. Most rice farmers use fertilisers in a higher concentration than recommended and only about 45-50% of the fertiliser is effectively used, and the rest is washed away. According to the assessment of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the amount of fertiliser washed away with drug residues is quite high, affecting water sources.


In recent years, the over-exploitation of groundwater is also a threat to clean water sources. In the 2000s, groundwater exploitation was only from 200,000m3/day, however, by 2021, the amount of extracted water increased to about 500,000m3/day. Particularly, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City have a larger total exploitation capacity (Hanoi is exploiting about 1.3 million m3/day, Ho Chi Minh City is about 600,000 m3/day). The increased exploitation leads to saline intrusion to the underground water exploitation works. In many places, the decline has not shown any signs of recovery, where contamination of substances containing nitrogen origin, such as NH4, NO3 in some places, especially in the southern area of Hanoi. It also leads to consequences on people's life, economy and health, such as ground subsidence when lowering the water level, flooding in the future, pressure differentials leading surface contamination, the risk of causing acute and chronic diseases, etc.


According to monitoring data of the Environmental Protection Department under the Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the water quality of river sections flowing through the inner city such as To Lich, Kim Nguu, Set, Lu, etc. are all within alarming pollution; the content of ammonium, coliform, phosphate, iron, etc. all exceeded the permitted standards. Particularly, ammonium measured 9mg/l - 20mg/l (18-40 times higher), coliform measured1.5x104 MPN/100ml - 7.5x105 MPN/100ml (2-100 times higher).


clean water vietnam.jpg
source: the Internet

Impacts on life

According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, each year, Vietnam has about 9,000 people die from using polluted water and poor sanitation. Every year, there are nearly 200,000 people with cancer, 250,000 people with acute diarrhoea are hospitalised, one of the main causes of which comes from contaminated drinking water. In fact, in some localities, cases of cancer and infections in women caused by the use of polluted water account for nearly 40%.


Up to 44% of children infected with worms and 27% of children under 5 years old are malnourished in Vietnam due to lack of clean water and poor sanitation (according to WHO). About 21% of the population is using water contaminated with Arsenic – or inorganic Arsenic, a highly toxic chemical commonly used in the creation of herbicides and pesticides (according to the report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment).


According to the assessment report of UNICEF, the southern area of Hanoi is very heavily contaminated with arsenic, even topping the list of arsenic contaminated locations nationwide such as Phap Van, Tuong Mai, Linh Dam, and Nam Du (Hoang Mai), Ha Dinh (Thanh Xuan), Quynh Loi (Hai Ba Trung). In Ha Dong area, the index of nitrite contamination exceeded the allowable standard many times over. In Dong Da area recently, the test results have shown that the water has a nitrite content of over 20mg/l, exceeding the standard set by the Ministry of Health of 3mg/l, while in Hoang Mai district, most of the All water samples had ammonium values exceeding the standard.


Climate change, natural disasters, floods, landslides, prolonged heat and reduced rainfall all cause drought, leading to the risk of serious water shortages in localities. According to forecasts, by 2030, with sea level rise, our country has about 45% of the land area at risk of salinisation, leading to a 9% decrease in rice yield in the Southern region, seriously affecting agricultural production. It is forecasted that the area of the Mekong Delta provinces has 828,000 ha of saline soil, and in the Northern midland and mountainous region, about 2.3 million hectares of land are degraded, at risk of landslides.


Necessary actions

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the demand for water for production and consumption in Vietnam has increased rapidly. In 2000 about 65 billion m3/year, in 2010 about 72 billion m3/year, and after 2020 will be more than 80 billion m3/year. As the annual rainfall is quite high but unevenly distributed and many rivers are polluted due to over-exploitation leading to degradation, the pressure on clean water sources is getting more serious.


Hanoi currently has 6 large enterprises producing and supplying main sources of clean water, including Hanoi Clean Water One Member Limited Liability Company, Song Da Clean Water Investment Joint Stock Company (CP) (Viwasupco), Ha Dong Clean Water One Member Limited Liability Company, Son Tay Water Supply Joint Stock Company, Duong river surface water plant, Ha Nam Water Plant. However, there is a paradox that although Hanoi lacks clean water and is using more than half a million m3 of low-quality groundwater every day, the surface water treatment plants producing clean water have not consumed at full capacity, such as Duong River Surface Water Plant, North Thang Long Surface Water Plant.


clean water vietnam.jpg
source: the Internet

To achieve the goal of 100% of people having access to clean water by 2025, Hanoi has made strong moves such as organising investment promotion conferences to call for investors to invest in clean water projects in the city. The city has called on 23 investors to research and implement 40 clean water investment projects, of which 11 are source development projects, and 29 are water supply network development projects. To date, a number of completed projects have yielded good results.


In addition, there is a plan to increase the price of clean water in Hanoi to increase users' awareness in using water carefully. The fact that the price has not been adjusted for the past 10 years is the biggest problem causing many investors to give up, delay in implementing the project. This is also the reason for the plan to cover the water supply network to rural areas failed to meet the target for the period 2016-2020.



a) By 2030:

  • 65% of the rural population has access to clean water of standard quality with a minimum quantity of 60 liters/person/day.

  • 100% of rural households, schools and health stations have hygienic latrines meeting standards and regulations; 100% of rural people regularly practice personal hygiene.

  • Striving for 25% of concentrated rural residential areas to have a domestic wastewater collection system, 15% of domestic wastewater to be treated; 75% of livestock households and farms are treated with livestock waste.

b) By 2045: To strive for

  • 100% of rural people to have safe and sustainable use of clean water and sanitation;

  • 50% of concentrated rural residential areas have a domestic wastewater collection system, 30% of domestic wastewater is treated;

  • 100% of livestock households and farms are treated with livestock waste.



source: the Internet





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