Use Case: Vietnam Academy for Water Resources

A stakeholder meeting in Ninh Thuan Province discussing drought indices generated by the Regional Drought and Crop Yield Information System (RDCYIS). Photo Credit: SERVIR-Mekong

User: Vietnam Academy for Water Resources (VAWR)


Geographic Location: Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam

User Background: VAWR, which operates under Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), is the leading institute for water resources, research and development within Vietnam. Established in 2007,  the institute now maintains a vast network of 1,300 professionals, which include academics and researchers, that collaborate across 17 sub-institutions. The institute provides scientific research, training, consultancy, and technology transfer in the fields of developing and managing water resources and agricultural development.

Service Summary: The Regional Drought and Crop Yield Information System (RDCYIS) is an integrated web-based information system that was co-developed by VAWR and SERVIR, along with the provision of technical and capacity-building support. The application is able to characterize droughts through accurate, reliable and timely estimates of both their severity and impacts. This information is imperative for local governments and the agricultural sector to forecast seasonal drought and implement short and long-term mitigation measures both during, and prior to droughts.

  1. Service: Enhancing Drought Resilience and Crop Yield Security for the Lower Mekong
  2. Tool: Regional Drought and Crop Yield Information System (RDCYIS)

Broadly, the multi-dimensional purposes of this service are to: 

  1. Improve the operational, technological, and institutional capabilities to prepare for and respond to droughts in the Lower Mekong region.
  2. Support local decision-makers with drought forecast indices and up to 6 months drought monitoring, analysis and forecasting
  3. Provide ecological and financial forecasting information to inform seasonal cropping decisions.

Situation: Droughts frequently occur in the Lower Mekong Region as they form part of the annual cycle of wet and dry seasons. However, climate change is altering the frequency, intensity, and timing of the wet and dry season, which makes it more difficult to prepare and respond to extreme weather patterns. Droughts negatively impact ecosystems, biodiversity, agricultural and crop production. Many countries in the Lower Mekong Region, such as Vietnam, heavily rely on agriculture and crops for their food security, rural livelihoods, and local and national economies.

In 2016, due to the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event, Vietnam suffered its worst drought in 90 years. ENSO influences the monsoonal circulation, which results in changes to rainfall and temperature patterns, varying spatially at the sub-national level. In Vietnam, rice plays a particularly vital role for food security and rural livelihoods, employing two-thirds of the rural labor force and positioning Vietnam as one of the world’s largest rice exporters.  As rice is a water-intensive crop, it is heavily impacted by prolonged drought, resulting from a limited amount of rainfall during the dry season or a diminished allocation of water from irrigation systems. Due to the considerable uncertainty regarding future precipitation trends and intensity of extreme events, there is a real need for improved forecasting, governance and decision-making.

User Need: In Vietnam, government agencies are tasked with ensuring food security and robust livelihoods for farmers. However, the national and provincial systems are not able to provide drought forecasting information with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution. There is a need to improve this access to data in order to (1) make drought forecasts more accurate and reliable; and (2) support and build resilient communities. In addition, monitoring drought and crop yields ensures that the agricultural planning process is both adaptive and inclusive.

The Prime Minister directed VAWR to seek a method to improve the accuracy of drought forecasting and VAWR’s ability to forecast and monitor drought conditions. These improvements would support MARD in its decision-making capability, especially as they relate to salt-water intrusion, water allocation, and the distribution of social welfare compensation and initiatives.

Currently, drought and low crop yields have differential impacts on gender and ethnic minorities; with some groups receiving more targeted early warning drought communications than others. In order to build a more holistic drought response, mandated early warning communications must be incorporated into the agricultural planning process and distributed consistently across the varying social sectors of Vietnam.

User Quote:

"We would like to use the RDCYIS system to enhance our existing drought forecast, including the rain forecast information that can forecast up to 3 months ahead. This information could help them provide more accurate forecast bulletins so farmers can plan their water consumption more effectively for agriculture and household usage."

– Dr. Lam Hung Son, Director, Hydro Meteorology Station, Ninh Thuan Province

Example of Use: At the request of the Prime Minister, VAWR partnered with SERVIR-Mekong to co-develop the RDCYIS service in the Ninh Thuan Province of Vietnam.

The service allows VAWR and its related agencies to access more accurate spatial and temporal drought data derived from numerous space-borne sensors, which improves resilience to periods of inadequate rainfall and, ultimately, reduces crop loss.

Some examples of collaboration include:

  • VAWR and associated partners were trained how to use RDCYIS to suit their current needs, including the customization of specific drought indices, crop yield indices, and web dashboards – all in the Vietnamese language.
  • SERVIR-Mekong and VAWR successfully calibrated and validated models using local ground drought data from MARD's existing data streams.
  • SERVIR-Mekong, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and VAWR have collaborated to keep the RDCYIS system, data inputs, and methodologies up to date.
  • SERVIR-Mekong and VAWR worked to improve dissemination of the drought bulletin and drought-related preparedness plans. VAWR uses information and products from the RDCYIS to model water availability and produce monthly water resource bulletins for Ninh Thuan Province. The bulletin was shared with the Water Resource Directorate in MARD and Irrigation Management Companies to support irrigation operations in the province.

Outcome of Use: VAWR has improved its technical capacity by training personnel across the entire institute. The agency should now be able to harmonize models and systems with more accurate spatial and temporal drought data and employ them in other provinces with slight modifications. VAWR has used the improved data to distribute more accurate 5-day and 10-day drought forecasts to local communities via radio and public service announcements.

VAWR integrated improved hydrological data accessed from the RDCYIS into its Reservoir Water Management Information Portal, disseminated via bulletins and reports.

By supporting WRD regional and national drought monitoring and advocating for geospatial technology in drought forecast, MARD would be able to make informed decisions in the national agriculture planning and food security strategies, including times of drought, and better policy decisions relating to water allocation when drought occurs.

Future Collaborations: Data collected from engaging with stakeholders and development of the RDCYIS in Vietnam will enable SERVIR-Mekong to potentially develop the service further on a regional scale working with the Mekong River Commission to improve the accuracy of the tool and early warning system that could benefit the Lower Mekong Region.

  • Once the pilot phase in Ninh Thuan is complete, VAWR and SERVIR-Mekong plan to scale up the system and employ it in other provinces throughout Vietnam.
  • Based on the gender needs assessed, conduct further analyses to identify entry points and mechanisms for integrating gender consideration into the drought and crop yield forecasting service.
  • Improve drought and crop yield information dissemination in Ninh Thuan province to ensure a more holistic drought mitigation and response to be incorporated into agricultural planning
  • Further enhancement of the system could incorporate additional information that is relevant to decisions at sub-seasonal and multi-year temporal scales.

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