Interaction of land and surface water-use patterns in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta: A quantitative analysis of changes

Over the last 20 years, investments in water infrastructures have provided opportunities to enlarge, intensify, and diversify farming systems in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta (VMD). Changes in farming systems and associated land-use induced changes in the water resources management strategy of the delta. Under pressures of food security, economic development and climate change, the water resources management is challenged by diverging, and often conflicting, demands by land-use changes in the upper, middle, and coastal parts of the delta. While changes in water resources can be assessed and projected by hydrological models, changes in land-use are hard to explain and predict. Land-use changes are driven by social agents, e.g. government agencies, private entrepreneurs, farmers and other stakeholders, with different perspectives, capacities, and motivations. Moreover, understanding problems in water resources management among different hydrological regions is a challenge due to the limited study of the complexity of land-water interactions at delta scale. Therefore, this research aims to provide insight into the correlation between land-use changes and changes in the hydrological regimes in the VMD and into the main drivers of land-use change in order to identify strategic future hydrological regimes for the VMD by integrating remote sensing, GIS based, and livelihood analyses. The specific objectives are to:

  1. Study the correlation between land-use changes and changes in hydrological regimes taking account of spatial interactions and temporal (time-lag) effects;
  2. Identify the main drivers of land-use changes in a case study area; and
  3. Identify strategic future hydrological regimes for the delta to anticipate on climate change, private land use choices and inter-boundary water resources management problems.