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Asean Affairs  18 May 2011

Asia needs better water management

By  David Swartzemtruber

AseanAffairs     18 May 2011

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Throughout Asia whether a country is big or small, floods pose a problem and the loss of life is usually higher than in more developed countries, where there are more advanced water management and early warning systems.

It is good news, therefore , when Vietnam announces its first regional flood warning system in the five most flood-prone central Vietnam provinces.

The provinces are Quang Binh, Quang Tri, Thua Thien-Hue, Quang Nam and Quang Ngai and the system took three years to develop. More than 70 automatic gauges and weather stations had been installed, Hydro Meteorological and Environment centre director Nguyen Dinh Luong said yesterday.

National Hydro Meteorological Service director Bui Van Duc told Viet Nam News that the new system was fast and accurate. It takes only 3-6 hours for floods to hit downstream in the central part of Vietnam due to its narrow shape, he said. Now it would take 30 minutes to get a flood warning from the time rain started to fall upstream, compared to two hours previously, Duc said.

"Measurements used to be taken manually and put into reports to be sent out via telephone or radio links, which made the whole process time-consuming."

It was especially difficult during extreme events like typhoons.

However, Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Van Duc said the density of gauging stations in the new system still remained low compared to advanced countries. The warning system expands to the rest of central Vietnam early next year.

Floods in the central region in October 2010 alone killed almost 200 people, left 35 missing with another 200 injured. They caused property losses estimated at VND13.5 trillion (US$642 million) to the already poorest areas of the country.

A plan has been approved to develop a nationwide hydro meteorological network by 2020 to make the whole country prepared for floods and disasters.

Funding for the project came from the Italian government that provided US$3.67 billion and VND15 billion (US$715,000) from the Vietnamese government. Italian company CAE was the project contractor.

Paul A. Ebeling, Jnr

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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