VIETNAMESE OFFICIALS HAVE warned that an anticipated water shortage in the next few months could affect agriculture and generation of electricity in the north of the country. The average rainfall in northern Vietnam during November 2000 to January 2001 was as low as 10-30mm a month; rainfall last November alone was 40-80mm lower than previous years. In addition, northern Vietnam normally faces water shortages in March or April.

Power generation at the country’s biggest power station, the Hoa Binh hydroelectricity plant, 70km west of Hanoi, would be affected in May if water levels do not improve. Reports said that precipitation in 2000 brought less water to Hoa Binh’s reservoir than expected and the plant was releasing water at the rate of 900m3/sec to help irrigation work. Water inflow was only 300m3/sec, 100m3/sec lower than in previous years. About 60% of Vietnam’s power is hydro generated.