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prepared by
College of Technology, CanTho University, Vietnam
(Version 22 July 2004)
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1.1 The Mekong Delta and its main environmental problem
Mekong River, the 11th largest river in the world, is the main water source for irrigation, fishery,
and domestic use… In short, the living of the whole population in the Mekong Delta (MD) is
depending and will be depended on this resource.
The MD of Vietnam is located at the most downstream part of the Mekong river basin. With a
population of 17 million inhabitants living in 4 million hectares of land, the MD has great
potentials for agricultural production. The MD is the most important agricultural production
region for the whole country. It supplies for more than 50% of staple food and 60% of fish
production and accounts for 27% of the total GDP of Vietnam. Rice and fishery products
contribute significantly to the nation’s export earning.
The MD is a typical river delta, with a dense water system of natural creeks, small rivers.
Besides, artificial canals for irrigation, drainage and navigation have been constructed
throughout the whole region. Farmers, accounted for 85% of the total population, are living in
communities, which are split into small parcels, along the waterways. Only 30% of them can
access to safe water, the rest using directly surface water at the rivers or canals. Unfortunately, as
the consequences of a fast-growing economy, which is strongly based on agriculture, the region
is facing more and more severe environmental problems like pollution of water resources by
pesticides, fertilizers and animals manure, etc., especially since the past ten years. While most of
local farmers have to depend totally on the surface water for drinking, irrigating their crops,
fishing, aquaculture, etc., protection of this water source is crucial to ensure sustainable
development of the MD. Recognizing this urgent issue, recently the Vietnamese government has
promulgated two important decrees in order to protect the water resource. These are:
The decree No. 200 of the Prime Minister dated April 4th, 1994
The decree No. 36 CT/TW dated June 25th, 1998.

However, the surface water quality in the MD is still changing in the complicated way due to
1.2 Problems related with water
Located at the downstream end of the River, the MD will face all possible impacts from
upstream activities, which cause changes in quantity and/or quality of water (Ta Quang Ngoc

Surface-water quality problems are classified according to natural conditions due to topography
and geology of the delta. The development of the delta at the moment and in the near future,
beside positive impact, will also lead to environmental pollution. Development of agricultural
sector and urbanization are main issues affect the water quality. Use of excess and improper of
fertilizer leads to enrich water body by nutrients together with poor drainage in impression areas
in the MD, will impair water quality. Trophic state of water body at present is in hypertrophic
level; in addition the use of pesticide, fungicide, insecticides is not controlled. Most of micro-
organic pollutants are DDT, DDE, Dieldrin…
Rapid urbanization in some rural areas, combined with backward behaviors as making on the
canal overhung latrines, directly discharge of domestic wastes to canal system without any
treatment and others cause oxygen deficiency in water body.

1.2.1 Problems on water quantity

1. Shortage of fresh water for irrigation in the dry season
In 1999, a total area of 1.4 millions ha of spring-rice crop (dry season crop) needs irrigation.
Water demands are increased proportional with rice cultivation areas. From 1995 to 1999, newly
reclaimed areas available for rice cultivation has increased by 105.000 ha/year (Statistical
Yearbook 2000).
The main thrust of water resources development may be on-farm development and canal
improvement (enlargement of existing, and construction of new primary and secondary canals)
to bring more irrigation water to the already irrigated areas and to improve drainage conditions
and promote flushing of acid water. Embankment improvement in the deeply flooded areas could
prevent flooding till the end of August. In the shallow flooded, already more developed areas;
full year round protection is possible.
Both rainfall and river flow have a pronounced seasonal patterns. Periods of water excess
alternate with periods of water shortage, and water control measures must essentially adapt to
this regime feature. Virtually the only source of water for irrigation is the Mekong River, which
can with relatively minor improvements of the existing canal system, be channeled to all part of
the MD except for the southern and western part of the Ca Mau Peninsula. The discharges of the
Mekong river system are adequate to meet the irrigation water requirement during the early part
of the dry season and in June, a month with frequent dry spells after the start of the wet season.
However, during the March – May period, Mekong discharges are low and are required to
prevent deep saline water intrusion. Higher rates of abstraction would increase salinity intrusion
which is already affecting large areas.
2. Flood
An area of 1.2 to 1.9 millions ha of the MD is under annual floods. The severity degree and
frequency of the floods is increased. Within the past forty years, four substantial floods have
occurred in the following years: 1961, 1978, 1991 and 2000.
During the period of high river discharges, the banks of the Mekong river system are overtopped
on a large scale and the land is inundated. This inundation usually starts in July /August ands in
November/December. As there is considerable attenuation of the river water levels and
progressively increased capacity of the river system downstream, the river flood inundation
decrease downstream. In the south, excess rainwater also leads to large-scale inundation of the
land outside the river-flooding zone. This occurs especially in the southwestern part of the MD,

typically in June/July. Large areas remain waterlogged and inundated for most of the rainy
In view of the limitations on land use imposed by excess water due to flooding and rain, the dry
season is the main crop production season. The discharges of the Mekong river system are quite
adequate to meet the irrigation water requirements of the Delta during the early part of the dry
season. However, during the February ÷ May period Mekong discharges are low. Appreciable
net outflow from the Delta is required to prevent deep saline water intrusion. The river and canal
water in many parts of the coastal area is too saline to be used for irrigation purposes. The
affected zone is rather small at the beginning of the irrigation season, but irrigation intake points
become affected as the salinity intrudes further inland in parallel with decreases in net outflow
from the MD.
Acidification of canal water is a problem in areas with large concentrations of acid sulfate soils;
especially during May ÷ July when the acids from the soil enter the canals with drainage of the
early rains. Acidification of canal water can in general be managed by providing adequate
through-flow in the effected area, but as reclamation of acid sulfate soils progresses this may not
longer hold true.
The subsoil of the MD contains huge quantities of groundwater. Its exploitation, however, is
constrained by 3 factors: (1) the quantity of the water in the five aquifer, mainly salinity, (2) the
permeability of the aquifers, and (3) the fresh water recharge of the aquifers, which determine
the safe yield. However, when considering the expected urbanization in the MD, this quantity is
actually small. It should therefore be reserved for urban and rural water supply use only,
predominantly for rural areas and town that cannot avail of good quality surface water.

1.2.2 Problems on water quality

1. Acid sulfate soils
In large parts of the MD, clayey sediments deposited under brackish or saline conditions contain
soluble sulfates. In these, sulfate-reducing bacteria convert the sulfate to sulfides under anaerobic
conditions. This result in the formation of hydrogen sulfide – a highly toxic gas – and iron
sulfide, pyrites, FeS2, an insoluble non-toxic compound.
Acid sulfate soils, form when soils containing iron sulfide are exposed to oxygen, cover 1.6
millions ha (40%) of the MD (Minh et al. 1996). Soils with high iron sulfide content do not
usually become a problem so long as the soil remains inundated (Brinkman, Ve, et al. 1993).
Agricultural activities in the acid sulfate soils, especially in the large scale in the 2 severely acid
regions, Plain of Reeds and Long Xuyen Quadrangular (with a total surface area of more than 1
million ha), major cause of water pollution in the region.
The most significant detrimental properties of acid sulfate soils are:
• Release of acid (and sometimes toxic) drainage water which causes detrimental impacts
on the environment downstream.
• Fixation of phosphorus in the form of insoluble aluminum or iron phosphate. This locks
up phosphate from surface and groundwater, leading to phosphorus deficiency and a fall in
primary productivity.

2. Salinity intrusion
Salinity intrusion is the most important effect that influences water quality in the MD. Currently,
1.7 millions ha of the delta (42%) is under salinity intrusion (SIWRMP 1995). Salinity intrusion
is the principal limit factor of agricultural production (most of the are is under mono-crop of
rice), where located most of the poor provinces with a high ratio of poor farmers. Shortage of
drinking water is another diversity for local people. In order to prevent further salinity intrusion,
it is necessary to keep flows from dropping too low (WB-ADB 1996).
The reduced freshwater flows allow salt water to penetrate further upstream into the estuarine
channels, changing the chemical environment and causing substantial changes in the species
composition of the local ecological communities. A major effect has been to reduce the growth
of the littoral brackish forests which help to bind the soft silt soils, and this permits enhanced
erosion rates of the seaward coastline in many areas of the MD.
The delta experiences severe salt intrusion through channels and creeks, reaching a peak in
April/May, corresponding to the end of the dry season and the lowest flows in the Mekong river
system. In some areas, salinity has led to the contamination of the sweet water in near surface
aquifers, to the point at which it is unfit for consumption.

3. Pathogenic pollution and public health problems

Domestic wastewater contains pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasitic organisms which
originate from human and animal waste. Conventional physical and biological sewage treatment
processes, when available reduce the number of these organisms, but the large number remaining
represent a severe public health hazard.
Especially at risk are people who use the water for cooking, washing and bathing in
contaminated waters. Also at serious risk are those who consume fish, shellfish and other aquatic
animals and plants that have accumulated pathogens from the water in which they live. Shellfish
grown in polluted waters are particularly liable to infect consumers, since they filter large
volume of water in feeding and may be consumed raw or after insufficient cooking.
During the dry season, there is in many areas in the delta a serious lack of drinking water. The
water quality of the surface-water of the delta has a tendency to get worse when going
downstream. Because of rapid urbanization in the Delta that leads to high population densities.
The low basic sanitary condition, in form of overhung latrines above public channels and
fishponds it is expected that the surface-water contain high concentrations of fecal coliform
bacteria. Most of wastewater is diverted directly into the rivers and the canals. In addition,
people living along the rivers and the canals or in boats dispose solids and liquid waste into the
water. Besides, feeding fish by night soil in the fishponds connected to the rivers or canals is a
popular economic source which makes the surface-water contaminated. As many people in the
area drinks straight from the surface water, enteric infections and diarrhea diseases are widely
spread in the area.
If appropriate measures are not taken to reduce the discharges of domestic waste products into
the ambient environment, then probably the capacity of the nature to decompose and turnover
these waste products will be exceeded in the near future. This assumption is based on the
dramatically increase in the growth of population in the past 20 years. The development of the
MD in the near future is expected in high rate in which urbanization will cause serious
degradation of water quality.

4. Organic pollution

Besides causing aesthetic water pollution problems, dumping or discharge of organic matter into
receiving water bodies also creates oxygen deficiency. After being discharged into the water the

organic matter starts decomposing. This process is oxygen consuming and temperature
dependent and the high temperature in the Mekong River system all the year around will
accelerate this process. If the receiving water bodies do not have the oxygen renewal capacity
which is required to accommodate the amount of discharge organic matter, oxygen depletion can
result in killing of fish and other aquatic organisms which depend on oxygen from the water
itself. The variation of dissolved oxygen is quite various at different sites in the MD.
Oxygen saturation levels in the relatively high temperature water of the Mekong River system
are comparatively low, and an average BOD of 3 mg/L corresponds to actual concentrations of
dissolved oxygen of only around 5 mg/L. Many river fish become respiratory dependent at or
near this level. This means that the hemoglobin in their blood is unable to carry its full potential
loading oxygen, and this may alter their ability to survive or compete with others less affected.
So apparently harmless low levels of organic pollution may still have substantial environmental
impacts at the species level. If adversely affected species are significant in human diets, then
there may be negative impacts on human nutrition and health.

5. Agro-chemical pollution
Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus are essential for the growth of all plants. Discharge of
nutrients into the rivers might be beneficial to the growth of algae and seaweeds and thus to other
aquatic biota as well as for irrigation purposes. High concentrations of nutrient from domestic
sewage and industrial effluent or excess fertilizer runoff from cropped areas into rivers might
result in dense algal growth and eutrophication problems.
In eutrophic (nutrient enriched) conditions, the ability of the heavy blooms of phytoplankton to
detoxify organic and some inorganic contaminants may be very high.
Whilst this may appear reduce the environmental risks from toxic pollutants, the subsequent
incorporation into the food chain after the algae have been grazed by zooplankton and larger
herbivores, with its attendant probability of unpredictable biological accumulation at higher
trophic levels, raises other risks to the stability of the dynamics of the ecological communities.
These may include selective mortality of species and unquantifiable – but nevertheless, very real
– public health hazards.
Every year, floodwater inundates a great part of the delta area and carries biocide residues into
the river system for dispersal into the sea at the coast. However, the picture is complicated by the
common practice of adulterating these expensive chemicals with large quantities of cheaper and,
fortunately, usually much less toxic adulterants.
In all estuaries, the relatively short zone in which the fresh/saline water interface ebbs and
follows with each tide represents an efficient “nutrient trap”, in which many minor chemical
contaminants become concentrated. Because of the uncertainty of the actual active ingredient
concentration of these materials, and the poor records of their use, no reliable data on the
potential risks to the general inland environments can be calculated. There is an urgent need for
monitoring their presence in the estuarine nutrient trap zones, since their effects on communities
in this zone may be far more significant than in many other habitats.

6. Hazardous substances pollution

Dumping of solid waste products in landfills will always create a potential risk of leaching of
environmentally hazardous substances and contamination of groundwater and surface waters.
Discharge of industrial wastewater which contains toxic substances and accidental spill of
chemicals during transportation may result in serious environmental pollution. Toxic substances
that will accumulate in the environment, such as certain metals, pesticides and other organic
substances resistant to bio-degradation, require particularly cautious regulation since their effect
may be irreversible or present hazards to consumers of the water, i.e. for drinking or aquatic
At present the MD is not detrimentally impacted due to discharges of industrial waste products.
However, in near future with rapid development in the region, this should be taken into
consideration, the responsible environmental authorities has to establish an industrial
management plan aiming at protection the environment against industrial discharges.
Annually, Department of Science Technology and Environment (DOSTE) of 11 provinces in the
MD organized two campaigns for monitoring surface-water quality. Those activities are useful
when they want to observe about surface-water quality in their basin. In addition, those results
could be used to orient the development of their provinces. However, the results of this campaign
could not be used in the effective way because of the following reasons:

• The sampling and analyzing techniques are varied from province to province.

• There is not a common format for managing the data.

As the consequent, up to now, the whole picture of the water pollution evolution of the MD
cannot be drawn. Recognizing the urgent need of the establishment of a Water quality
monitoring network for the MD that use the unified technique and data base for sharing the
information, Cantho University (CTU), the center of education and research in the MD (see
annex) is writing this project proposal calling for support.

2.1 Overall objective

Establishing the Mekong Delta Water Quality Monitoring Network in which CTU will be the
center of this network. The members of this network are CTU and DOSTEs in the MD, other
institutions in the countries along the Mekong River. These members will use the same analysis,
sampling methods and equipment. They will build a unified database for recording and sharing
data. The data will be used for prediction the change of surface-water quality in the MD.

2.2 Specific objectives

1. Increasing the awareness of DOSTEs about the problem of existing surface-water quality
monitoring activities and the need of establishment a surface-water quality network.
2. Enhancing the co-operation between eleven DOSTEs and CTU in surface water quality
monitoring by establishment a surface water quality network in which CTU is the center.
3. The monitoring network will use the same equipments, sampling methods, analyzing
4. Upgrading the capacity of lab technicians.
5. Establishing unify database for recording and sharing collected data.
6. Establishing a model for predicting the trend of water quality in the MD.

3.1 Partner coordinator missions to Vietnam
Term of Reference:
• Identification of project feasibility
• Discussion on project management aspects
• Need assessment: expert missions, training subjects, resources, etc.

3.2 Initiative workshop in Vietnam

Target group:
• Leaders, representatives of DOSTEs and Environmental Monitoring Station.
• Staff of CTU who are teaching, doing the research on environmental issues
• Experts from partner side
• Experts of CTU

3.3 Training in Vietnam

• Sampling methods
• Analyzing methods, especially the ones that are suitable with used equipments.
• Applied GIS to Water Management

3.4 Training in foreign country

2 MSc. in:
• Applied Informatics in Water Quality Monitoring
• Water Quality Management

3.5 Lab equipments

The following equipments need to be equipped for the labs:
pH meter
DO meter
Microorganism incubation chamber
Sterilizing chamber
Vacuum filtration set (for Suspended solid analyzing)
Spectrophotometer (Hatch DR 4000)
BOD incubator
Hand-held GPS

3.6 Library and Information Unit

A bookshelf specializing on Water Resources Management to provide information to staff for
their monitoring activities will be established. The information unit with a server for update and
share the monitoring result will be establishes at managed at CTU.

3.7 Monitoring
Twice a year the DOSTEs will organize the monitoring campaigns. The analyzing result will be
recorded in the same format and send to information unit. The data will be processed by the
experts of information unit then shared to the members of the network.


1. A water quality-monitoring network for the MD.
2. Qualified staff members (2 MSc., and 24 lab. technicians) specializing on water quality
management, water quality monitoring, water quality analysis, computer network development
and maintenance.
3. Well and synchronous-equipped Water Quality analysis Lab.
4. Information unit that can process and share the data to the members of the network.
5. Water quality computer models modified and adjusted to the conditions in the MD.


Foreign partner: ……………………….

Vietnamese partner:

• Project leader: Prof. Le Quang Minh, Vice Rector, Dean (Dr. in Agricultural and
Environmental Science, Wageningen University, Netherlands)

• Coordinator: Mr. Le Hoang Viet, Director, Environmental Engineering and Renewable

Energy Center, Vice dean, College of Technology, Cantho University (MSc. in Environmental
Engineering, AIT, Bangkok, Thailand)

• Member: Mr. Nguyen Hieu Trung, Vice Director, Environmental Engineering and
Renewable Energy Center, Cantho University (MSc. in GIS, International Technology Center,
The Netherlands)

• Member: Mr. Le Anh Tuan, senior lecturer, College of Technology, CTU (MSc. in Water
Resources Engineering, AIT, Thailand)

• Member: Mr. Nguyen Vo Chau Ngan, lecturer, College of Technology, CTU (MSc. in
Sanitary Engineering, Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium)

• Members: representatives of DOSTE of eleven provinces in the MD

The project will be implemented in 5 years from 2003 - 2008


The project will be carried out based on share-burden budget.
The DOSTE will contribute the cost for analyzing water samples that are calculated as the
Contributing budget of DOSTEs

Province Cost (US dollar/year) Total contribution in 5 years (US dollar)

Dong Thap 1830 9150

An Giang 4730 23650

Bac Lieu 3680 18400

Ben Tre 2800 14000

Ca Mau 3505 17525

Can Tho 5610 28050

Kien Giang 3330 16650

Soc Trang 3330 16650

Tien Giang 3330 16650

Tra Vinh 5432 27160

Vinh Long 4556 22780

Total 41533 207665

CTU will contribute:

• Room for information unit
• Qualified staffs
• Places to organize seminars, training courses
• Man-power to develop and maintain computer network

Foreign partner will contribute:

• Cost for organizing seminars, training courses, project evaluation workshop
• Cost for equipments
• Experts’ cost

These costs could be calculated as the followings:

Investment Amount Total costs

costs (USD) (US dollar)

Training in foreign country

- MSc. on in Water Quality Monitoring 35.000 01 35.000
- MSc. on in Water Quality Management 35.000 01 35.000

Training in Vietnam
- Sampling methods 8.000 01 8.000
- Analyzing methods 8.000 01 8.000
- Applied GIS to Water Management 8.000 01 8.000

Annual workshop 4.000 05 20.000

- pH meter 700 12 8.400
- DO meter 800 12 9.600
- Microorganism incubation chamber 1200 12 14400
- Sterilizing chamber 900 12 10800
- Vacuum filtration set (for Suspended solid 950 12 11400
- Autoclave 1200 12 14400
- Colony counter 500 12 6000
- Nitrogen distillation GEHART 3276 12 39312
- Electronic balance 1821 12 21852
- Spectrophotometer (Hatch DR 4000) 6.500 12 78.000
- BOD bottle (300 ml) 18 600 10800
- BOD incubator 2.000 12 24.000
- Hand-held GPS 500 12 6.000
- Computers + printers 1.800 15 27000

Books 1.000 12 12.000

Total 407964

Axelsson, V. 1992. Sedimentation in the Nam Ngum Reservoir, Lao PDR. Uppsala
Brinkman, W. R., Nguyen Bao Ve and Tran Kim Tinh. 1993. Sulfidic Materials in the
Western Mekong Delta, Vietnam. Catena 20(3):317-331.
Choowaaew Sansanee (ed.) 1992. Proceedings of the Workshop on Wetlands Management
in the Lower Mekong Basin, 7-12 December 1992. Ho Chi Minh city. Vietnam.
Hoang Tho Dien. 2000. Mekong Water Source for Development of Mekong Delta. In: Tran
Cao Thanh (ed.) Vietnam and Mekong Sub-region Development Cooperation. The Gioi
Publisher. Ha Noi.
Lam Minh Triet and Nguyen Thanh Hung. 2001. Problems of Drinking Water Supply and
Environment in Flood-Prone Areas in Mekong Delta. J. of Environmental Protection.
Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. Ha Noi. No. 4-2001 [In Vietnamese]
Le Huy Ba. 2000. Introduction to Environment Management. Ho Chi Minh city National
University Publishing House. Ho Chi Minh city [in Vietnamese]
Le Quy An. 2000. Bio-diversification and Problems in Biological Resources Protection.
No 8-2000: 6-10 [in Vietnamese]
Miller, F., Nguyen Viet Thinh and Do Thi Minh Duc. 1999. Resources Management in the
Vietnamese Mekong Basin. Asia Research Centre on Social, Political and Economic
Change. Murdoch University. Western Australia.
Minh L. Q. 1996. Integrated soil and water management in acid sulphate soils: Balancing
agricultural production and environmental requirements in the Mekong Delta. Ph. D.
thesis. Wageningen University. The Netherlands.
Minh L. Q. 1996. Integrated soil and water management in acid sulphate soils. Balancing
agricultural production and environmental requirements in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. D.
Sc. thesis. Wageningen University.
Minh L.Q., T. P. Tuong and V. T. Xuan. 1996. Leaching of acid sulphate soils and its
environmental hazard in the Mekong delta. In: G. L Denning and Vo Tong Xuan (eds.)
Vietnam – IRRI a Partnership in Rice Research. IRRI and MAFI. pp 99-109.
Minh L. Q., T. P. Tuong, H. W. G. Booltink, M. E. F. van Mensvoort and J. Bouma
(1997a). Bypass flow and its role in leaching of raised beds under different land use types
on an acid sulphate soil. J. of Agricultural Water Management 32: 131-145.
Minh L. Q., T.P. Tuong, M. E. F. Mensvoort, and J. Bouma (1997b). Tillage and water
management for increasing riceland productivity in the flood prone acid sulphate soil area
of the Mekong river delta of Vietnam. Soil and Tillage Research 42: 1-14.
Minh L. Q., T.P. Tuong, M.E.F. Mensvoort, and J. Bouma (1997c). Contamination of
surface water as affected by land use in acid sulphate soils in the Mekong river delta,
Vietnam. J. Water Management and Ecosystems 61: 19-27.

NEDECO 1993. Mekong Delta Master Plan Study. A perspective for suitable development
of land and water resources. World Bank. Volume I.
Neue, H.U. and V.P. Singh. 1984. Management of wetland rice and fishponds on problem
soils in the tropics. In: Seminar on Ecology and Management of Problem Soils in Asia.
ASPAC. Taipei. pp. 352-366.
Nguyen Hoang Tri. 1995. Environmental Issues and Priority Programs for Sustainable
Development in Plain of Reeds. Oxfam America/NOVIB/CRES. Ha Noi University and
Cantho University.
Ni, D. V. 1997. A simple farming system on acid sulphate soils for the poor farmers. Paper
presented in the workshop on Problem Soils. Cantho University. March 1997.
Ongley, E. D. 1996. Control of water pollution from agriculture. FAO Irrigation and
Drainage Paper 55. Rome.
Phan Nguyen Hong and Hoang Thi San. 1993. Mangroves of Vietnam. Gland: IUCN
Wetland Programme.
Phan Xuan Su. 1996. Country Paper of Vietnam. In (W. L. Arriens, J. Bird, J. Berkoff, et
al., eds.) Towards Effective Water Policy in Asian and Pacific Region: Volume 2 - Country
Papers. Proceedings of the Regional Consultation Workshop – Towards a Policy for Water
Resources Development in the Asian and Pacific Region. Manila, Philippines, 10-14 May
1996. ADB Manila.
SIWRMP (Sub-Institute of Water Resources Management and Planning). 1995. Major
Issues in Water Resources Development in the Mekong Delta. Ho Chi Minh city.
Ta Quang Ngoc 2000. Vietnam’s Objective to Sustainably Utilize the Economic and
Nutritional Potential of the Aquatic Resources in the Mekong Delta. In: Tran Cao Thanh
(ed.) Vietnam and Mekong Sub-region Development Cooperation. The Gioi Publisher. Ha
Tran Duc Kham 1988. Water quality reclamation in the Plain of Reeds in the 80’s.
Proceeding of Workshop on Water Quality in Lower Mekong River. Ho Chi Minh city.
September 1988. International Mekong Committee.
World Bank/ADB/FAO/UNDP/NGO/GOV. 1996. Vietnam: Water Resources Sector
Review. Washington.

Figure 1. Network of monitoring waterways for surface-water quality in MD

Figure 2. Network of sampling points for surface-water quality in MD

Cantho University (CTU) was founded in 1966 with the name "Institute of Cantho
University" consisting of three campuses with the land area of 71 ha. When the country
was liberated, CTU has been under the direct management of Ministry of University and
Professional & Vocational Training, now Ministry of Education and Training. Since 1975,
CTU has made many improvements in organization, curricula, content and training
objectives to meet the demand of the amount and types of profession in the MD.
The total building area of CTU is 88,331 m2 consisting of solid and semi-solid buildings
such as halls, studying rooms, libraries, labs, and teaching facilities. Most of these
buildings are in a deteriorated state and have not been renovated and re-equipped for a long
time. Available teaching and practicing facilities have not met the needs of the university's
training programs.
1. Training
CTU offers 43 undergraduate training programs with an undergraduate student population
of 15,300. Most of them are from the MD (95%) and they are mostly from rural areas1.
CTU has trained over 23,000 students achieving bachelor degrees in pedagogy, agriculture,
technology, sociology and medicine. The university also offers higher education (MA and
Ph.D.) in 6 majors: Agronomy, Animal Husbandry, Biology, Environment, Biotechnology,
and Microbiology, with a total of 300 students. The university also offers specialized
courses in Economics, Hydrology, Agronomy, and other subjects to ethnic minority
In response to the demand of training for training in the MD, CTU also helps some
provinces in the region to open in-service centers. The number of students in these centers
in 2001 was 14,600. The university assists these centers by training staff, sending lecturers,
and providing teaching curricula.
Since the school year 1995-1996, the university has applied the credit administration and
training system. Now, this work has been completed and is in use. This new training
process helps students be active in deciding their study.
CTU's training programs are very practical for the region due to the following:

• Using and applying data and information specific to the region in research and

• Students of agronomy, pedagogy, medicine and other majors practice, research and
do graduation papers in rural communities in the MD.

• From 1990 to 1996 CTU built new buildings, with a total area of 24,758 m2, for
studying and doing experiments, student accommodation, and other uses. Of the area,
studying buildings occupy 3,405 m2, labs: 8,269 m2; dorms 677 m2; houses: 1,220 m2;
gym: 1,500 m2.

Tran Phuoc Duong & D. Sloper. 1995. Serving National goals and the local comminity: The case of Cantho
University. In: Sloper, D. & Le Thac Can (eds.) Higher education in Vietnam. Change and Response. pp
211-228. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Singapore.

• In recent years, facilities for training, experimenting, researching have been much
upgraded, typically in College of Agriculture, College of Basic Sciences, College of
Information Technology, School of Medicine-Dentistry-Pharmacy, and College of
Technology. There are 472 computers along with file servers connected into 13 LANs. In
most of the colleges and schools, more and more students can use computers to do
exercises, graduation papers, research, and practice.

• To serve the training activities, CTU has a good library system appreciated by
many foreign delegations. The library system is branched into 3 levels: Central library for
the whole university, college libraries and reference book corners. The central library has
one reading room with 400 seats and over 30,000 items, 1,000 magazines and 35 CD-
ROMs. Also, some colleges have their own libraries for specialized research, such as
School of Medicine-Dentistry-Pharmacy, College of Agriculture, College of Information
Technology, and College of Technology.

2. Scientific Research
CTU is prominent in agriculture and biotechnology research. This research has been
diversified over the past two years 1996-1998. Research has covered a variety of fields,
including education, basic science, information technology, ecological environment
protection, engineering, medicine, and economics.
CTU’s one important task is also to speed up international co-operation for capital,
personnel training, learning facilities and to study the social and cultural development in
the MD.
CTU is especially concerned with applying scientific achievements to practical production
in order to industrialize and modernize the MD because this region is rich in productive
land and agricultural resources.
Many young teachers, who have been following post-graduate courses both inside and
outside Vietnam in recent years, have been participating in the university's research
projects and achieved many accomplishments.

3. Statistics
The university has been conducting 5 national-level point-of-research projects financed by
the Ministry of Education and Training and another 13 ministry-level projects in 1997.
These projects have been going well as planned in the outline. The university accepted the
general educational research project in the MD. The Ministry approved and awarded 3
excellent projects when the 30th anniversary of the university was celebrated.

4. Context
Cantho University participates in research projects at all levels:

• Contracts for research at state level:

- Projects on development of varieties, in which the most important is to
research, to breed, and to select varieties of paddy. From this project, many varieties
accepted by Vietnamese Agricultural Ministry have been propagated in the MD. In
addition, CTU is researching and preserving various collections on varieties of paddy,
soya-bean and fruit trees.
- Projects researching soils having problems, the most important being research
on acid sulfate soils. Due to this project, CTU has trained teaching and research staff to a
high professional knowledge in soil chemistry, soil mechanics, and GIS, and has also
acquired modern synchronous equipment that is helpful in soil research.
- Research on aquaculture, including the shrimp artemia project.
- Group of research projects on development of crop systems.

• Projects at level of ministry:

- Many diverse projects concentrating mainly on the agricultural sector and rural
development: agricultural economics in the countryside, crop protection, varieties,
aquarium agricultural engineering, post harvest technology, and food processing.
- Research for applying computer technology in management.
- GIS.

• Projects at level of University:

Almost all faculties participate in research projects at university level in many fields:
Agriculture, Technology, Medicine, Economic, Teaching methodology, Society, Culture,
Co-operation with provinces in the MD to research problems in production: crop
protection, testing new varieties, soil improvement, and agricultural mechanization. CTU
signs with local authorities in order to apply advanced technologies in production and
social life in the poor countryside, guides the farmers to apply advance new technologies to
erase hunger and reduce destitution. Various Institutes and Centers are carrying out
research at the university. The Institute of Crop Systems Research and Development
develops many suitable models of production and varieties with high yield and insect
resistance that are propagated over a wide area of the region. The Renewable Energy
Center is carrying out 4 projects to help women erase hunger and reduce destitution
through applying the model of Fruit - Fish - Animal husbandry - Biogas. The Agricultural
Faculty carries out a lot of research contracts with locals in the MD to organize training
courses on cultivation engineering, crop protection, and transferring new varieties of tree
and animal. Through the research programs of CTU, many research projects; applications
and advanced science and technology are transferred into production with a high
economical efficiency and a reality for farmers in the region. Many new products have
resulted from research at CTU, due to the application of science to agricultural production.
These include various methods to prevent insects that are now commonly used by farmers
such as: Thyromin, Copper Zine, Copper B, and a compound that encourages the
development of trees.

• Cooperation projects with foreign Universities and Institutes: CTU is cooperating with
many foreign Universities and Institutes in research projects, including soil improvement,
nitrogen fixing, animal food, shrimp and fish raising, and artemia.

• Organize workshops and important scientific conferences:

- Efficiently utilize the acid sulfate soils in the MD.
- Workshop on utilization of soils having problems in the MD and another
- Workshop on anaerobic fermentation technology in order to manage water
resources and waste that impact social economics and ecology.
- GIS technology in research and in the utilization of natural resources.
- Workshop on development of education for the 21st century.
- Workshop on summary of Heifer program.
- Research and develop the field of aquaculture in the mainland and South East
Asian Sea.
- Workshop on the transfer of economical agricultural structure and rural
In general, activities of research in CTU are diverse and there are good projects
implemented in the conditions of the MD that contribute considerably toward rural
development and increasing the standard of life of farmers.
5. Relation with social economic field
CTU has a good relationship with the social economic field. Almost all foreign experts
working at CTU have made the same remark. This is a main strong point of CTU. In the
past, CTU closed the door for 2 – 3 weeks in order to send the students and staff to the
countryside to help the farmers destroy insects to overcome big epidemics. Every year,
CTU has an anti-illiteracy campaign in an out-of-the-way region. The students
enthusiastically support this program. CTU also organized training courses in the field of
management for young entrepreneurs in the MD.
CTU has cooperated with non-governmental organizations in the credit program for poor
women, a program for rural development, and a program for environmental hygiene in the
countryside. These programs have been developed in the provinces of the MD: Can Tho,
An Giang, Dong Thap, Tien Giang, Long An, Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, etc, in which
staff from many faculties, Institutes and Centers participate.
CTU usually organizes meetings with local authorities in the region in order to discuss co-
operation in education. In the meeting on 3/7/1999, provincial leaders agreed that there be
a periodical meeting between provincial leaders and CTU in order to discuss subjects
concerning the training of manpower, relating education to social demands, and co-
operation for scientific research in the whole region2.

Reports of Conference on "Training for Industrialization and Modernization in Mekong Delta”. July 3,

CTU and its faculties have a good relationship with Directors of Agricultural Department;
of Science, Technology and Environment Department, and the Medical Department in the
MD. These relationships help CTU to know quickly real demands of society in order to
create appropriate syllabus for training and determine the orientation for scientific
CTU has a tight relationship with alumni who are working in most provinces, districts, and
villages in the MD. A general assembly is organized periodically in order to make known
scientific information and modern technologies, to present results and changes of CTU,
and most importantly to allow students to contribute ideas in order to contribute for
improving all activities of the university.
In addition, CTU has a network of collaborators who are advanced farmers in almost all
provinces. These collaborators take an important role to help the activities for encouraging
agricultural and technology transfer from the university to the field.
The students of CTU usually visit provinces having an exchange program for young people
and provincial students. These activities help students get good conditions to contact with

6. Technical infrastructure serving for training and research

Based on data calculating property as of 01/1/2001, the total value of immobile property of
CTU: 443,597,742,564 VN dong.
The average value of wealth per 1 student: 29,573,182.84 VN dong/student
(This data is calculated with 15,000 of students)
The total area that CTU has managed and utilized: 87,6957 ha
The total area of existing buildings: 101,377 m2
- Concrete building (level 3, level 2 and level 1) 62,246 m2
- Partial Concrete building (level 4) 39,131 m2

Table 1. Value of CTU's property

No Types of property Value (VN dong) Ratio

1 Buildings-building materials 339,965,212,805 76.64%

2 Means of transportation 10,730,788,000 2.42%

3 Machines & Equipment 76,840,049,759 17.32%

4 Others 16,061,692,000 3.62%

Total 443,597,742,564 100%

Divided into functions:
- Auditorium and classroom 22,964 m2
- Lab & Place for researching 20,730.69 m2
- Library 6,490 m2
- Offices 7,872 m2
- Others 31,139 m2
The area of teaching place per student: 6,09m2/student
The area of dormitory per student: 0,81m2/student
In general, the quality of machines and equipment for teaching work, practical work, and
scientific research are not distributed well between the different faculties. Some faculties
manage and use modern equipment, while many faculties still must use obsolete equipment
that does not meet the standards for today's advanced scientific and technological research
and practice.
From the problems above, we can infer that equipment in the labs between the faculties in
the university is not yet synchronous; therefore new equipment should be invested
synchronously in order to bring all faculties up to date. The equipment will be used
immediately, especially for faculties such as: College of Education, College of Technology
and the Medical Faculty. The following table demonstrates the current situation of
imbalance in the equipment available for teaching and research work between the faculties
of CTU.
Table 2. Value of equipment in the different faculties

No School, College Original value Ratio %

1 School of Education 5,911,764 8.19

2 College of Agricultural 37,606,709 52.11

3 College of Technology 6,739,721 9.34

4 School of Medicine 8,218,537 11.39

5 Faculty of Sciences 4,359,476 6.04

6 College of Information Technology 6,697,153 9.28

7 College of Economics & Business 2,516,166 3.49


8 School of Law 114,907 0.16

Total 72,164,433 100

7. Staff members
The status of manpower of CTU is described in Table 3.
Table 3. Quantity and knowledge of staff members of CTU
Kinds of staff Doctor Ass. Doctor Master Bachelor Technician Others Total

Teaching staff 37 14 346 411 12 820

Assistant 5 86 57 42 190
teaching staff

Administration 3 1 8 107 28 167 312

Researcher 3 8 8 5 1 25

Total 43 15 367 612 102 2100 1,347

Ratio (%) 3.1 1.1 27.2 45.4 7.6 15.6 100

8. Organization and Management

The university currently has 9 educational units, research institutes and centers, and other
specialized departments and boards.
8.1 Colleges and schools
- College of Agriculture
- School of Education
- College of Sciences
- School of Economics and Business Administration
- College of Technology
- College of Information Technology
- School of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry
- School of Law
- College of Aquaculture
8.2 Research Institutes and Centers
- Biotechnology Research and Development Institute
- Farming Systems Research and Development Institute
- Renewable Energy Resources Center

8.3 Support Units
- Center of Foreign Languages
- Central Library
- Science and Technology Information Center
- Center of Services

8.4 Support Departments

- Department of General Administration
- Department of Personnel
- Department of Finance
- Department of Academic Affairs
- Department of Sciences and Post-graduate Programs
- Department of Political and Recreation Affairs
- Department of Physical Facilities and Equipment
- Dormitory Management Board

8.5 Other Departments

- Department of Politics
- Department of Physical and Sport Education
- Department of Military Education

9. Financial sources and activities

The activities of finance can be seen that the expenditure implementation was for different
contents as the following:
- Salary, work payment and others
- Scholarships
- Mission fees
- Professional fees
- Strengthening materials and technical facilities
- Scientific research

- Aid project
- Basic construction
The financial source implementation in the university's budgets were from the different
sources as follows:
- Ministry of Education and Training
- Tuition fees and others
- Training contract, scientific research and services
- Aid and donation
Generally, the governmental funds for usual expenditure, tuition fees and income from in-
service training contracts have increased sustainable yearly. This is spent on improving the
income of staff (especially lecturers), building new classrooms, and ensuring minimum
conditions for off-campus education. On the other hand, foreign funds provide critical
support for transportation means, laboratory equipments and conducting research, all of
which contribute to the development of the region.

10. Duty, objective and development model of CTU

10.1 Duty of the University
CTU is a multidisciplinary university. Its duty is indicated in the seminar on strategic
scheme of 1996 as follows:
1. To train Bachelor, Master and Ph.D. degrees in many fields that society requires. The
University will extend training subjects and number of students, enhance training and
management quality, and upgrade its facilities. It is expected that CTU will be a strong
educational training center in the MD and be able to train qualified students whose
knowledge is comparable with those from other universities in South East Asian countries.
2. To conduct basic and applied research, from now to the year 2005 the university gives
its priority to do research concerning agriculture, industry, economy, medicine, education
and society for the MD.
3. To serve directly to the communities; CTU focuses on extension activities and
technology transfer in order to improve economic conditions of the region.
4. To improve and develop relationships with other universities, research institutions, and
organizations in and outside Vietnam is also a vital mandate of CTU.
10.2 Development objective
CTU will build quickly towards meeting the target set for all universities in the country,
which is being on equal footing with other universities in the Southeast Asian region. The
University will also retain and strengthen its position as the primary educational and
technological center in the MD.

10.3 Development model
CTU has the advantage of a stable multidisciplinary model in which the interaction
between colleges, institutions and centers is well organized for obtaining the University’s
target. This model has a major advantage of appropriate use of available manpower.
Students of one school or college usually take courses from others. The school of
education and college of sciences are responsible for giving lectures in basic courses for
students in all other schools and colleges. In the future, the University will retain and
improve this model.
CTU is organized into university, college, and department levels with well-defined
management procedures. The colleges are given major responsibilities for financial
expenses, number of students to be recruited, training and research programs, as well as
international relations. The college can even assign some of the above-mentioned
responsibilities to the department level.
Some large departments may divide into professional groups, however, these groups are
not officially considered as a structure of university system. Additionally, CTU has several
multidisciplinary professional groups formed from different colleges to perform research
and technology transfer to the community. For instance, women's groups for rural
development or rural development and planning groups (e.g. College of Agriculture,
College of Technology, School of Economics and Business Administration, and School of
Medicine Pharmacy and Dentistry).