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Training courses on Management, Regulation and Sustainable Use of water resources in the Northwestern highlands


Climate change has caused severe consequences in the mountainous provinces of the Northwest in general and communes, villages of Son La in particular. Furthermore, water crisis not only causes the risk of natural disasters, but also creates great pressure on the socio-economic development goals of the country in general and ethnic monitories in particular.

In recent years, the Party and State have provided investment programs and projects for the exploitation and usage of water resource for people living in high mountainous areas such as building tanks through the program of socio-economic development (Program 135). It can be said that the Program 135 has achieved many achievements, focusing on investment in infrastructure systems such as irrigation systems, community houses and other models of production development to improve their livelihoods sustainably.

According to Ms. Quynh Anh, Center for Rural Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation, there are more than 1400 water supply constructions in Son La province. Although these constructions have brought efficiency, water shortages in mountainous areas are still occurring, particular in the dry season. Additionally, these constructions have been deteriorated or affected by weather conditions so that people are not provided enough water for living and economic development. The proportion of water supply constructions rated as underperforming is quite high (56%). In particular, these are all small-scale, dispersed and spontaneous constructions since people have a tendency to take water from river, streams and wells. As a result, the ability for supplying water as well as the water quality are not guaranteed.

From January 2021 to December 2023, the project “Mitigation and Adaptation to climate change in the agriculture and forestry sector of the Northwestern highlands” funded by Bread for the World (BftW), implemented by the Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD) in collaboration with, the Son La Provincial Forest Protection Department, Son La Sub-Department of Plantation and Plant Protection and Thuan Chau District People’s Committee carried out activities in four project communes, namely Muoi Noi, Bon Phang, Nam Lau and Chieng Pha, Thuan Chau district, Son La province.


          So far, after nearly a year of implementation, many activities of the project have been conducted, including the assessment of water supply and demand, the establishment of associations of water users in 16 villages of four communes. However, the unreasonable management of water sources as well as the low quality of water supply constructions that have led to water scarcity, especially in the last 5 years. In addition, some villages must share water sources with each other that have created conflicts in the management and usage of water sources. As a result, SRD has provided training courses on Management, Regulation and Maintenance of water systems for 254 members (85 women and 169 men) of 16 associations of water users between December 13 and 21, 2021.


Through the training days, the members were provided the information on the causes of water shortages in rural and mountainous areas such as the use of herbicides and pesticides; unreasonable water extraction; forest loss leading to the reduction of water retention; and the growing population. Furthermore, the training courses has also equipped trainees with information to calculate the water use needs of each person (e.g. 100 liters/person/day). As a result, there have been solutions to overcome the challenges such as adjusting the water supply time, taking advantage of plastic containers to store water or installing water meters. Besides, water management groups are facing the difficulties in charging maintenance fees, so in the open discussion at each training course, a lecture and participants have discussed and found out solutions to tackle these problems.



Attending a training day, Vice Chairman of Thuan Chau District People’s Committee Nguyen Xuan Hoang shared that: “Compared to other localities, they have to purchase for using water and take advantage of extremely economical water sources; meanwhile, in Son La province, the water source is more abundant. However, if there is no plan to manage, protect or regulate reasonably, we also face the situation of buying water for usage in the near future. As the lecturer stated, in additional to natural water from rivers or water slots, we also need to take advantage and reserve rainwater sources for the dry season. Not only that, we could also protect our water resources through production and cultivation activities such as limiting and avoiding spraying and herbicides. Although the training courses was implemented, due to the COVID-19 situation, the number of participants of each training class were limited to less than 30 people, so we could share and disseminate the information to those who have not had an opportunity to participate. As a result, everyone could gain more knowledge on water protection and sanitation in order to improve water quality and people’s health.”

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