Southern province of Ca Mau, Vietnam may be at great risk of sinking below sea level in the next few decades. The preliminary results of a joint Norwegian-Vietnamese study show that groundwater pumping may be a major contributing factor. Further work on verifying the preliminary results and identifying measures to mitigate the subsidence is urgent, experts advised.
Norway has assisted Vietnam in looking at the reasons for the land loss problems in Ca Mau Province. The Ca Mau Land Loss Study was initiated in May 2012, and has been undertaken in close cooperation between the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI) with Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in Vietnam. The preliminary results of the study show that overexploitation of the water table may be a major reason for the subsidence (sinking of the ground surface). These results were presented by Dr. Kjell Karlsrud (NGI) at a workshop co-hosted by the Norwegian Embassy and MARD this week.
Vice Minister of MARD, Dr. Hoang Van Thang expressed concern about the seriousness of the issue and called for cooperation of related ministries and institutions as well as international support. Norwegian Ambassador H.E. Mr. Ståle Torstein Risa shared the Vice Minister’s concern and stressed the importance of further verification and monitoring of the preliminary results. Said actions need to be based on available topographic maps, data on soil conditions, water pressure in the sediments and the use of freshwater well drilling. The subsidence issue needs to be looked at in combination with other issues such as coastal erosion, salt water intrusion, mangrove degradation, and socio-economic development needs of the southern Vietnam. The Ambassador emphasised the importance of an integrated approach with cross-agency cooperation, multi-disciplinary analysis, a clear roadmap from the Government of Vietnam enabling coordinated efforts from Vietnam and the donor community.