Mar 10, 2020

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta Declares Emergency on Devastating Drought

Mekong River Delta
Vietnam
by
Mai Ngoc Chau
,
Bloomberg Green
Climate change is increasing drought risk
A farmer wearing a protective facemask works in a rice field in Vietnam. Credit: Nhac Nguyen/AFP via Getty Images

Climate Signals Summary: Climate change is increasing drought risk in certain regions by increasing temperaturesdrying out the land, and lessening precipitation, or making it occur in more extreme bursts.


Article Excerpt: Vietnam’s prolonged drought, coupled with an extensive buildup of salinity, have driven five provinces in the country’s rice bowl to declare a state of emergency.

“This year’s drought and salinity have been way more devastating than what we saw four years ago,” said Nguyen Thien Phap, head of the water resources department in Tien Giang, one of the provinces that announced the emergency in the Mekong Delta.

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The Mekong Delta, which produces more than half the country’s rice, has so far seen a total of 33,000 hectares of rice fields damaged and nearly 70,000 households suffer from lack of water, Vietnam National Television reported Friday, citing latest data from the country’s department of water resources.

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Lack of rain combined with growing water consumption on river tributaries, as well as increased water storage in dams, are likely to spur drought and make saline intrusion more severe and longer-lasting, Hoang Phuc Lam, the center’s deputy director, said in a report.

The government estimates drought and salinity will affect 362,000 hectares of rice and 136,000 hectares of fruit trees in the Delta this year, while more than 120,000 households will experience a water shortage. As of March, salinity had hit about half the districts in 10 of the 12 provinces and one city in the region.

The persistent drought in the Delta in 2016 caused losses worth 8.9 trillion dong ($384 million) with 250,000 hectares of rice, 130,000 hectares of crops and 30,000 hectares of fruit trees destroyed, according to local news website VnExpress. It was regarded as the worst drought in the region of more than 17 million people in data going back to 1926.