Gov’t warns of more critical fresh water shortage in “rice bowl”
19:55 | 14/09/2020

VGP – The Government has warned of more critical fresh water shortage in the Mekong Delta localities as the amount of rainfall in this year’s flooding season has decreased by 30-40% on year.

The significance of the Mekong Delta (Data in 2017)

The water flows to the Mekong Delta, known as Viet Nam’s rice bowl, is forecast to continue decreasing in the dry season of 2020-2021, further threatening agricultural production and life of 20 million people in the region.

In the long-run, the situation will further worsen due to climate change and sea level rise as well as increased exploitation of upstream water resources, said the Government.

In a bid to actively cope with the situation, the Government urged the local authorities to design response plans for the scenarios as in 2015-2016 and 2019-2020, the delta’s worst drought since data was first available in 1926.

In case of extreme drought and saltwater intrusion, the local authorities must ensure that no family suffers from lack of water.

The delta needs to increase capacity of fresh water reserve and step up construction of irrrgation and water supply projects in high-risk areas, the Government ordered.

In March, the delta comprising 12 provinces and city experienced the worst drought and salinity levels, with some 600,000 residents unable to access to freshwater and 160,000 hectares of paddy fields damaged. The total damage was estimated at VND5.5 trillion (US$237 million).

Experts have been blaming the El Nino phenomenon and upstream dams for the parching of the Mekong Delta.

Even as El Nino reduced rainfall in southern Viet Nam last year, upstream dams held back water, which also brings sediments to fertilize downstream lands.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said drought and salinity have affected 20,000 hectares of crops so far, or 7% of the 2016 area./.

By Kim Anh

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