Improving water efficiency through irrigation modernisation in Vietnam
The Water Efficiency Improvement in Drought-Affected Provinces (WEIDAP) project in Vietnam is aimed at overcoming water scarcity by providing modernised irrigation systems to high value horticulture crops that were badly affected during the 2014-2016 drought.The project has made recent progress in moving from the detailed design phase to the commencement of construction. The project is a $120 million USD loan through the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in partnership with counterparts in the Vietnamese central government of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Provincial governments of the four Central and Central Highland provinces. The project is supported by the Australian Water Partnership (AWP) and led by RMCG through providing technical assistance based on Australia's experience with pumped pressurised "on demand" piped irrigation supply systems.
The team recently visited project sites in Vietnam where they oversaw the start of construction for the first scheme, "Du Du – Tan Thanh," located in Binh Thuan province. The initiation of construction at this site is a significant milestone, as it marks the transition of the project from planning to implementation.Visits also took place in Ninh Thuan and Dak Lak Provinces, where discussions took place on construction techniques, in preparation for commencing construction in these provinces later in the year. These preparatory discussions are crucial for ensuring a smooth and efficient construction process.
Three similar subprojects funded by the other ADB projects were part of the study visit in Thanh Nghia Cooperative (Lam Dong province), Cu M'gar pump/pipeline scheme (Dak Lak Province), and An Hai scheme (Ninh Thuan Province). While these projects are not part of WEIDAP, they hold many similarities and provide valuable insights for the team that can be utilised in implementing WEIDAP. The RMCG team provided inputs related to pump settings, system operations, and pricing, fostering collaboration and knowledge exchange with local stakeholders.
The visit to the Thanh Nghia cooperative pumping scheme proved to be particularly fruitful. The local provincial technical team managing the project have faced challenges determining the optimal pump operating settings, as this modern system has not been implemented in Vietnam before. The discussions during the visit helped identify solutions leading to the system being 95% operational, demonstrating a modern irrigation system that provides water on demand. The successful resolution of these issues sets a positive precedent for the WEIDAP project and installs confidence in its future outcomes.
Observations and data collected once the system has been running for a few months will provide valuable insights into the project's impact on the community. The operational success achieved thus far has also paved the way for potential collaborations with local engineers for the WEIDAP project, highlighting the positive relationships built during the implementation process.AWP is continuing to collaborate with ADB to provide support for the implementation of WEIDAP, which focuses on irrigation modernisation in Viet Nam.