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Assessing the needs and supply of domestic water for people in 4 communes of Muoi Noi, Bon Phang, Nam Lau, and Chieng Pha

Thuan Chau is a mountainous district of Son La with approximately 147,100 people living in 1 town and 29 communes. People in the district are mainly ethnic minorities and their production activities depend heavily on agricultural and forestry products. The communes of Muoi Noi, Bon Phang, Nam Lau, and Chieng Pha, stand out as communes with high poverty rates with the majority of the population being Thai people. In recent years, this locality has continuously experienced a series of extreme weather conditions from severe cold, frost, rain, floods, landslides to extreme dryness, and heat. …

Another dry season has come to Thuan Chau. Freshwater - an essential part of people’s life is being seriously threatened for many different reasons. Within the framework of the project "Mitigation and Adaptation to climate change in the agriculture and forestry sector of the north-western highlands", SRD has implemented an outstanding and urgent activity, namely "Accessing the needs and supply of domestic water for people in 4 communes of Muoi Noi, Bon Phang, Nam Lau, and Chieng Pha. 

With the participation of representatives of District Agriculture Department, Thuan Chau District Construction Investment Management Board, leaders of 4 communes water, and people from 16 villages, experts on water and socio-economic development together with SRD's staff has conducted this assessment in March 2022.

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Community group discussion 

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Interview using questionnaire

The research team visited the field of water tanks and water supply works in 16 villages of 4 project communes. Maps and satellite locators were used to determine the coordinates and heights of water bodies and waterworks compared to residential areas. The current status of the domestic water system in the area, the current status of land use, the farming activities of local people around the water source area were also recorded according to each survey and assessment.

 The results of the study shows that the majority of people in 15 villages are in a situation of lack of domestic water in the dry season. Only 2 out of 16 villages have access to clean water from water plants, the remaining villages use water from water fountains and waterworks from upstream in the mountains.


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Many groups of households still have to use unsafe water from water reservoirs

The main causes of water shortage were identified by the expert group:


(i) Watershed forest degradation, the role of watershed forests is very important. Forests not only hold water but also regulate water, ensuring harmony between groundwater and surface flows, however in recent years, in the context of the situation of climate change is becoming more and more complicated, the quality of watershed forests is declining, leading to a significant decrease in the amount of water that flows from underground aquifers into the basins in recent years. The source of water flowing into the water tanks is mainly from surface runoff after each rain, which is not hygienic when people directly use this water source for daily activities, which is the cause of many diseases for the villagers.

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Many forest areas have not yet recovered 

(ii) The dissected terrain. With the main feature of the terrain being hilly and mountainous, separated from the residential area, it will be disadvantageous when the water flow from the pipeline does not create enough pressure to supply the households at high altitudes compared to the residential area. 


Topographic map in 4 project communes

(iii) Due to climate change, in recent years, Thuan Chau has suffered from many extreme weather phenomena that have reduced supply such as prolonged drought and erratic rainfall. More specifically, floods and landslides occur not only causing damage to people and properties but also disrupting and disturbing groundwater flow.

(iv) Agricultural farming. Spontaneous farming activities not only cause deforestation but also heavy pollution of water sources. There is a phenomenon that many households living around watershed areas have been using pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers for cultivation. These toxins not only degrade the soil but also directly seep into the water source, polluting the water sources and causing serious diseases for humans and livestock. 

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Many pesticide bags were collected near the water source

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The community built the resource map together 


Without consensus. Finding a common voice in the same residential community is difficult, but finding a common voice among neighboring communities is even more difficult. Chaos in the management, regulation, and maintenance of water occurred in many villages. Degraded domestic water system; people refuse to pay the cost of the water management fund; disputes over the use of common water sources; violate the regulations of the commune; conflicts due to ethnic differences between the villages ... These are inadequacies that need a lot of time to be resolved.

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Some unsanitary water tanks are only used to water plants, a few households still use them for bathing

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Herbicide was used near water source

Solving the problem of ensuring a supply of hygienic drinking water for the people is extremely crucial. Through this assessment of water supply and demand, the expert group together with the SRD will have suggestions and recommendations to the People's Committees of 4 project communes as well as the People's Committee of Thuan Chau district in order to improve the situation of water shortage for the residents. Training activities on the Management and regulation of domestic water will also be continued by SRD in the second quarter of 2022 in 4 project communes.

Domestic water is no longer the same as before, but the water source will still be enough to supply the basic needs of the communities if they reach a consensus, protect watershed forests together, change farming methods to adapt to climate change, and well-manage the water resources.





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