Hanoi has grown rapidly into a modern, vibrant city. It is also envisioned to become a centre of culture, science, education, economics, tourism and international trade in the Asia-Pacific region. However, the development of infrastructure and services has lagged behind the growth of the population, hindering the realization of such vision. In particular, sustainable water resources management is a major challenge. Water pollution and urban flooding have arisen as persistent environmental problems in Hanoi for years, impairing the liveability of the city, deterring investors and compromising social – economic development.

Hanoi City Drainage Master Plan addresses these two issues but its implementation has not kept pace with the growth of the problems. Making Hanoi a water pollution and flood free city by 2050 will require enormous and sustained investment and institutional reform.

In an effort to support Hanoi City to implement its Drainage Master Plan and to build resilience and sustainability in the City’s water resources management, in 2019, the World Bank commissioned ICEM to undertake a study on water pollution control and drainage and wastewater management in Hanoi. The study aims at developing an effective and comprehensive management and investment program to tackle water pollution in key rivers – To Lich, Nhue, Day and Tich, and improve drainage and wastewater management in prioritized locations – Long Bien and Gia Lam districts.

Through a series of stakeholder consultations, field inspections, and data analysis, the study team assessed the baseline conditions of water pollution in the four rivers and urban flooding and wastewater management in the two districts, delineated the causes, and identified bottlenecks in addressing such causes. The technical challenges include rapid population growth and urbanization, dwindling water resources in rivers, infrastructure deficit (i.e. shortage of wastewater collection and treatment capacity, lack of tertiary sewers and household connections to wastewater collection network, absence of stormwater pumping stations in two districts), and slow implementation progress of Hanoi Drainage Master Plan.

Declining water quality in four rivers from 2016 to 2018

The project also identified institutional areas for strengthening, such as streamlining institutional arrangements in water resources management, improving coordination mechanisms between management authorities, improving land acquisition processes, incentivizing private participation and addressing gaps in environmental monitoring.

Building on the baseline assessment, the study team proposed engineering interventions, both grey and green, to alleviate the problems, adopting the Source-Pathway-Receptor approach. Hydraulic and water quality modelling were conducted to assess the effectiveness of these interventions in short, medium and long term. In addition, the team documented the social and environmental implications of the interventions and articulated their costs and economic benefits. The interventions were then prioritized based on a multi-criteria analysis, taking into account factors such as economic, social and environmental impacts, ease of implementation, contribution to climate resilience, and service improvement.

Study team on the field measuring water quality of Day River

The study recognized that infrastructure alone could not solve all problems in water resources management in the City. As such, soft interventions were also recommended to create an enabling environment for effective and sustained implementation and operation of infrastructure proposed for investment. These soft measures were categorized in three groups, namely (i) reforming policies and regulations, institutional strengthening and capacity building; (ii) strengthening enforcement of regulations and monitoring network; and (iii) mobilizing finance for and improving financial viability of investments.

During the course of the project, several workshops were organized to present the findings and collect feedback on selection and prioritization of interventions and on improving technical analysis of the study from a variety of stakeholder, including experts, government officials, research organizations, and local government. The final workshops are planned to happen in March – April this year, and the project is scheduled to conclude in June.

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