|Reservoir of the Ha Dong dam in Dam Ha District, Quang Ninh Province. New Zealand will help Viet Nam improving dam safety with new technologies for warning-systems and risk-management. — VNA/VNS Photo Duy Khuong
HA NOI (VNS) — The first phase of a joint dam project between Viet Nam and New Zealand is nearing its end and entering into its final year. The project, improving dam safety with new technologies for warning-systems and risk-management, was the main topic of the Dam and Downstream Community Safety Initiative (DDCSI) workshop held in Ha Noi yesterday.
Kathryn Beckett, the first secretary for development at New Zealand's Embassy of Ha Noi and also head of NZAID, spoke to Viet Nam News about the reason for the partnership and the urgency of the project.
"The first reason New Zealand got involved is that we are aware of the critical situation of many of Viet Nam's dams some of which were build 40 years or so ago. The situation is only getting worse with the increase in extreme weather," she said, adding that "the second reason is that New Zealand has great expertise in this kind of work, we have a lot of large hydropower dams and we have strong international practices in dam management."
The DDSCI project, which started in May 2012, is sponsored by New Zealand's NZAID and implemented by the New Zealand Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences, a New Zealand consultancy firm Damwatch and Viet Nam's Water Resources University.
The project is expected to end this year after the guidelines to improve dam safety in Viet Nam have been completed.
Worker safety and reducing economic damage from extreme dam discharges are a few of the guideline targets, Prof. Dr. Nguyen Quang Kim, rector of Water Resources University, told the workshop.
"The project develops a model for managing flood risks caused by extreme dam discharges, including dam spillway release floods and dam failure floods that may affect downstream communities. It uses a comprehensive method for assessing potential consequences and also proposes prioritized methods to improve dam safety, as well as how to respond when there is an incident."
"So far, the project has almost completed its first phase with a case study of Ban Mong reservoir in Nghe An Province," said Kim, highlighting that the results of the study would be transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, and Nghe An Province as a model for other dam safety practices.
"The project applies a unique approach to Viet Nam. Nobody in the whole Mekong region can offer to do what we are doing. We are looking at the whole dam system and whole river basin system; from hazards down to the impact on communities," Beckett said.
"In this first phase, the project just produces tools to help assess risks, the likelihood of economic damage and guides on how to improve dam management practices. In the next phase we plan to jump into action," she said.
Beckett stressed that, "the situation is critical. In Binh Dinh province, I arrived a day after a dam flood. People were killed and washed away. I visited households and businesses that suffered from the dam break; people lost buffaloes and their livelihoods. The experience showed me the widespread nature of the problem, which therefore must be dealt with across the country." — VNS