Community based water quality monitoring: a multi-benefit approach to water governance in the Red river basin, Vietnam

Community based water quality monitoring: a multi-benefit approach to water governance in the Red river basin, Vietnam

Community based water quality monitoring: a multi-benefit approach to water governance in the Red river basin, Vietnam

10:15 - 15/03/2018

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Statement of water quality problem

The Red River is the second largest river in Vietnam. Administratively, it covers 26 provinces and cities, with a total population of about 28 million of people, including Hanoi city. One of the main problems of the river mentioned in the report of Diep et al (2007) has been water pollution. Many river segments in the Red river basin, such as Day, Nhue and Thuong are being polluted as a result of the domestic and industrial activities. The wastewater is flushed directly into the river that causes bad impacts to environment surrounding and affects the health of people living along the river system.


Picture 1: Wastewater without treatment discharged into the river (taken by the fellow)

Current status of surface water monitoring network in Vietnam

The current national water resource monitoring network for the Red River basin area that the National Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation (NAWAPI) is operating and managing consists of 198 stations in which only 10 stations are for surface water monitoring. Of the 10 surface monitoring stations, only 3 are monitoring water quality status with some parameters (such as: TSS, EC, pH, COD, BOD5, Coliform and temperature) according to Vietnam technical regulation No. 08:2008/BTNMT. The rest stations (7) are only monitoring for water level (see Figure 2).


Groundwater monitoring point

Surface water monitoring points

Traffic road

Rivers, lakes


Figure 1: Diagram of water monitoring network for Northern Delta region (NAWAPI)


Community-based water quality monitoring and water governance

It is acknowledged that water quality monitoring is essential for environmental protection, managing waterways. Obviously, this current monitoring system has a long way to go before it can meet the requirements of observing and analyzing water quality for such the very large Red river system. Without proper information and data, it is very difficult to stop the pollution and degradation of the river.

Furthermore, there is a growing recognition worldwide that a great deal of water problems in river basins, and particularly those related to water quality and quantity are rooted in failures to establish good water governance at a basin level (Nikitina, E., et al. 2010). According to the article of Margot (2013), the approach to water governance is founded upon three core elements of governance: accountability, transparency and participation in which participation is about the involvement of citizens and communities in decision making process. Many case studies in the world have revealed that community involvement, stakeholder coordination, including enhancing their involvement and partnerships, appears to be among the powerful tools in good water governance in river basins.

Therefore, establishing a community-based water quality monitoring program is essential and can have several benefits. Firstly, it can contribute to provide suitable information and data for local action planning or decision making as well as current database system of the national water monitoring network. Secondly, it helps to identify pollution events and educate communities. Thirdly, the participation of local communities and stakeholders such as students and youth, unions, authorities, NGOs, business, and land users in the community-based water monitoring program could establish a network for future consultation of water governance processes and a basis for future internal interactions in the basin. That is why it is needed to set up a community-based monitoring network for water quality in the Red river basin.

It is obvious that the public has become more supportive for government’s actions and interventions on water governance issues due to the recognition of the importance of water. The respondents from the research are willing to participate in water management program of the government, for example, properly using, saving and monitoring the water resources. In recent years, water issues of a country cannot be solely resolved by the water professionals, or the water ministries. These issues are becoming more and more interconnected, and requiring the more involvement of other actors, especially the public support (Biswas 2001). Based on the results of the survey, it can be realized that the majority of citizens had knowledge about the important role of water protection in household and community environment. They are also willing to contribute financial resources to improve water quality. The government should use the concept of bottom-up planning to involve local communities and other stakeholders from the grassroots level in policy-making process, from design, implementation to  monitoring and evaluation (Dungumaro and Madulu 2003).



Biswas, A. K. (2001). "Water policies in the developing world." International Journal of Water Resources Development 17(4): 489-499.


Diep, N. V., et al. (2007). Integrated water resource management in the Red River Basin – problems and cooperation opportunity, CAIWA International Conference on Adaptive and Integrated Water Management, 12-15 November, Basel, Switzerland.


Dungumaro, E. W. and N. F. Madulu (2003). "Public participation in integrated water resources management: the case of Tanzania." Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C 28(20): 1009-1014.


Hill, M. (2013). Chapter 7: Water Governance in the Context of IWRM: Switzerland. Climate Change and Water Governance Adaptive Capacity in Chile and Switzerland. London, Springer


Hmelo-Silver, C. E. (2004). "Problem-based learning: What and how do students learn?" Educational psychology review 16(3): 235-266.


Nikitina, E., et al. (2010). "Towards better water governance in river basins: some lessons learned from the Volga." Regional Environmental Change 10(4): 285-297.