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Case Study: Red River Embankment and Climate Change Resilience in Lao Cai City

Vietnam and China have about 144 km of shared natural borders by rivers and streams. Some of China's river embankment infrastructures caused changes in the flow of rivers and led to riverbank erosion in Vietnam’s territory. Following the 1994-embankment, Lao Cai had built a new one in 2004 running from the Coc Leu Bridge over to the Pho Moi Bridge. Besides the purpose of riverbank protection, this embankment also helped to expand the city’s land area, for it to scale up its urban plan and improve its urban landscape. However, after the new embankment was built, some issues started to emerge. As a result of the construction, the river was narrowed, its course was disturbed, and large masses of land was eroded and washed away from its banks. In addition, several areas in the city experience flooding whenever heavy rain occurs. During these rain periods, water level in the river rises higher than that in the city, making it impossible for flood drainage from the city area into the river. Households living in new urban areas next to the embankment worry about the risk of damages in the event of a flood equivalent to those in 1971 and 1986.


Currently, Lao Cai is still receiving billions of VND of investment mobilized from government bonds for the construction of new dykes in the city and the reinforcement of critical border embankment infrastructures along the Red River, Nam Thi River and Chay River. Lao Cai needs to build the Red River embankment to be a “safe failure” system in order to strengthen the city’s climate change resilience.


Nghiem, T. (2018). Case Study: Red River Embankment and Climate Change Resilience in Lao Cai City. Vietnam, Lao Cai: Institute for Social and Environmental Transition-International. 

Funded By:  

The Rockefeller Foundation

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